Due to hurricane damage, the Havelock location is closed until further notice. Havelock therapists Hannah Zhang, Sarah Hall and Judy Hickes are available to see patients at the New Bern location. Please call the New Bern location at (252) 636-9800 to discuss your care.

Can anxiety really be causing my arm pain?

Can Anxiety Cause Arm Pain

The short answer is yes. Anxiety can cause pain and other symptoms in the arm.

Arm pain is widespread and affects many people daily. Some people may experience sudden sharp pain that comes on suddenly and doesn’t last very long, while others have a more chronic condition that’s more persistent.

In addition to arm pain, Harvard University links pain to other parts of the body due to anxiety and depression. The shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand are all areas where you can feel arm pain when experiencing stress for several reasons.


How can anxiety cause arm pain?

Anxiety puts stress on your body. It can even cause physical symptoms, including muscle tension and aches. Here are three reasons why anxiety can cause arm pain:

  1. Muscle tension — When you feel anxious, your muscles will tense up. Muscle tension is a natural response for the body when it feels threatened. The problem with muscle tension is that it can result in cramps and pain.
  2. Numbness — Sometimes, when you suffer from muscle tension, blood flow to the area decreases, leading to numbness and a pins-and-needles sensation. Numbness is usually temporary, but if you have anxiety for a prolonged time, it can become more permanent due to chronic tension.
  3. Panic attacks — Panic attacks can cause symptoms, including chest pain and shortness of breath. The pain from a panic attack is often related to muscle tension — the chest and arm muscles tighten up when you’re in the middle of a panic attack.


3 physical therapy techniques to reduce arm pain caused by anxiety

Anxiety, pain and stress can make daily living difficult for many. However, physical therapy techniques can help you to manage them and help improve your overall well-being. Here are three methods that can be used during or after your visit to see a physical therapist:


  1. Diaphragmatic breathing — This kind of breathing exercise is a powerful way to help you relax and reduce muscle tension, which reduces pain.
  2. Using heat to increase blood flow — Heat is therapeutic because it increases blood flow to an area, which helps relax tense muscles, improve flexibility, and relieve pain. Heat also releases endorphins, which help you feel better mentally. Heat should not be used immediately following an injury because it increases the inflammatory response by increasing blood flow.
  3. Using aquatic therapy — This form of rehabilitation is carried out in swimming pools or other aquatic environments. Pain can be reduced by using aquatic therapy (also known as hydrotherapy). Hydrotherapy relies on natural resistance and support, reduced strain, and better blood flow to reduce arm pain.


Peak Performance can help treat your arm pain and anxiety

As the plethora of options available can be pretty overwhelming to a new patient, your physical therapist can use many safe and effective therapies to relieve pain, treat injuries, and help you manage your anxiety. Our physical therapists will construct an individualized treatment plan designed to reduce your pain and anxiety. We can perform a free screening on you to pinpoint specifics about your arm pain.


Contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.