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Can Stress Cause Joint Pain?

Seaweed is When it comes to joint pain, you might instantly think of old age, bone disease, or even an injury. But have you ever thought that stress might cause joint pain? It might be surprising to know how anxiety and joint pain are correlated. However, it is true and evidence-based.


Can stress cause joint painStress can be a significant factor in causing joint pain. | Source:


A study in the US found a positive association between psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and pain conditions. The pain conditions discussed in the study were arthritis, migraine, and back pain, with anxiety and joint pain having a more significant association with each other as compared to other pain conditions and depression. [1]

Another study on Caucasian subjects showed a deep association between anxiety symptoms and joint and muscle pain. Patients with depression were found to have a significantly increased risk of developing temporomandibular joint pain. [2]

In this article, we will discuss causes of joint pain, how stress is related to joint pain, how to tell if you are stressed out, and measures you can take to reduce stress and anxiety associated pain. But first, let's start with basics.


What Is Stress?

Stress is a unique condition of your mind. It may be physical or emotional tension associated with certain external stimuli. It is basically a response generated in the brain due to external changes. These external stimuli can vary from day to day tension, financial pressure, a fight, or even an emergency. While the environment can trigger stress, persistent thoughts, and worries can also play a crucial role in the development of anxiety. [3]


How Does Stress Affect Your Body?

We are never free of stress or anxiety in our lives. These feelings always co-exist in our routines, but the accumulation of stress and its mismanagement is what snowballs into much bigger problems.

Stress is a state of mind and an emotional condition. However, it is associated with physical and health implications on our bodies. Tiredness, mood swings, low energy, lack of motivation, and anxiety pain are a few of these.

Stress is also widely considered to be the basis of numerous health issues like common colds, infections, hypertension, and other cardiovascular anomalies.

While stress factors in life can be innumerable and vary from one individual to another, what dictates the end-results is how well these factors are managed. Too much workload at office, financial and family issues, and not landing a suitable job are a few of the common life stressors for most populations.


Can stress cause joint paintOffice workload can play a key role in increasing stress levels. | Source:


While money is the biggest stress predictor for the poor, the lack of emotional and psychological peace has left the wealthy perturbed on the other hand. Subsequently, we need to understand that stress is inevitable and a natural phenomenon for all, rich and poor. Thus, stress accumulation is what causes most of the complication, and we need to avoid it in order to prevent the cascade of associated drawbacks.


Causes of Joint Pain

One of the common causes of joint pain is inflammation. Swelling in the joint and surrounding structures like ligaments, tendons, and muscles leads to pain. Muscle tension, immune system dysfunction, or injury also lead to joint pain, particularly anxiety pain.

While other joint pain causes include deficiency diseases, bone disorders, and old age, many people ask if 'stress can cause joint pain?' Most young individuals have this query as to why they are suffering from joint pain at such a young age without any other underlying disease or health condition. The answer to this lies in the correlation of stress, anxiety, and joint pain.

Stress and arthritis are closely related as the brain responds to stress by synthesizing certain chemicals that have a generalized effect on your body. These chemicals, while dealing with stress, may also adversely impact your joint health. 

People often tend to look for various pain-relieving agents to get rid of the agony and discomfort. Organic Turmeric Curcumin is one such supplement that consists of natural ingredients and helps you combat pain.


How Does Stress Cause Joint Pain?

Stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamus to release adrenaline from the adrenal gland and subsequent hormones, respectively. [4] The released hormones include the following.


1. Pro-inflammatory cytokines

One of the prominent causes behind the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines is stress. According to research, specific pro-inflammatory cytokines are involved in direct activation of nociceptive sensory neurons. This results in the initiation and aggravation of pathologic pain.

Chronic stress leads to a persistent release of these pro-inflammatory cytokines, giving rise to inflammation. As a result, stress inflammation is triggered, which is a typical condition in the stressed-out body. [5]

2. Cortisol

Although a small amount of cortisol plays an essential role in bone development, however, excessive amounts can do the opposite – block bone growth.

With long-term stress, continuously elevated cortisol levels may lead to persistent inflammation, which in turn reduces the body's ability to absorb adequate calcium. As a result, your body experiences exponential calcium excretion. This rapid loss of calcium means that your body can not replace the optimal quantity of calcium by diet alone. Thus, your body then tends to extract calcium from the bones. This makes your bones porous and highly brittle, resulting in osteoporosis and joint pain.

Too much production of cortisol can also cause obesity and heart disease. Studies have shown that persistent stress response causes cortisol dysfunction and widespread inflammation, explaining the association between persistent anxiety and joint pain.

Furthermore, cortisol has an indirect effect of obstructing calcium absorption in the bone, hampering bone cell growth. Excessive cortisol in the blood may also lead to masculine characteristics in females, baldness in males, and damage to brain cells associated with memory function. [6]

3. Prolactin

The connection between stress and arthritis can also explain joint pain. The hormone prolactin, released during stress response by the pituitary gland, stimulates cells to cause inflammation and pain in the joints, as seen in rheumatoid arthritis.

A study conducted at Arizona State University reported that prolactin levels among individuals with interpersonal stress were two times higher than those not stressed out.

4. Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)

The release of ACTH from the pituitary gland results in a cascade of other hormones from the adrenal glands. These include epinephrine and cortisol. ACTH also inhibits the release of endorphins, which are the natural painkillers in the body. As a result, anxiety pain is triggered, and enhanced pain is perceived after an injury. [6]


Stress-Joint Pain Relationship

Physiologically, stress has its importance. It helps enhance your body strength and energy during times of need. The stress response enables you to deal with touch and trying situations, for example, a fight or an emergency. When the stress stimulus is over, your body gets the critical time to repair the damage caused. However, regardless of the stressor, a continuous trigger causes the buildup of stress hormones that have their repercussive effects on the body.

Like calcium, magnesium is another mineral that is lost from the body due to stress. Inadequate levels of magnesium set off symptoms like fatigue, muscle cramps, mood swings, etc. It also enhances pain perception and sensitivity, which connotes to aggravated pain in the joints. [6]

So, answering the initial question about stress causing joint pain is not a straightforward yes. Instead of causing pain, stress may also be involved in aggravating already present joint pain. This occurs due to underlying muscle tension, stress inflammation, and mineral depletion. All of these factors lead to anxiety and aggravated joint pain. Thus, persistent stress response adds up to the cascade of events, consequently rolling into a vicious cycle in which stress and arthritis potentiate each other. [7]


How to Figure Out If You Are Stressed Out

If you are wondering whether your anxiety pain is related to stress, consider the symptoms mentioned below. The first step in dealing with stress is to acknowledge that you suffer from it. If you experience the majority of the following symptoms, chances are that you are stressing out.

  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle tension
  • Persistent stomach disturbance
  • Nervousness or trembling
  • Insomnia
  • Changes apatite
  • Cold and sweaty hands
  • Bruxism (grinding teeth)
  • Other idiopathic conditions like headache, joint pain, weakness, stomach ache, etc. [8]


Can stress cause joint paint Insomnia is a significant symptom of high stress levels. Source:


In today's fast-paced world, each one of us is prone to be stress. If you are experiencing recurrent joint pain, flu, infection, or any other health issue, it can also be caused by other reasons. But if your condition is related to stress, you can consider using organic stress-relieving supplements that can help to relax and improve your symptoms.

However, it is very important to consult your doctor and get a proper diagnosis. And if stress is ruled out, follow the precise treatment plan that your healthcare provider drafts for you. 

How to Reduce Stress and Joint Pain?

1. Identify the Cause of Stress.

Before settling to remove stress from your life, find out what is causing stress in your life. When you end up successfully identifying the cause, you can then decide whether to change it or adapt yourself to yield positive outcomes.

2. Communicate with Your Close Ones

If something is disturbing you or a situation that stresses you out, discuss with someone you trust. Whether it is a relative or a friend, sharing your thoughts and feelings has a remarkable impact on reducing your stress level. On top of that, you might get a useful suggestion or a helpful tactic to handle your situation.

3. Avoid Smoking, Drugs, And Alcohol

Many people resort to poor habits when they feel they are stressed out. However, this is the most unproductive thing to do at the moment. It is crucial to realize that smoking, drugs, or alcohol can't help solve any problem; neither do they take away the stress. It is merely a temporary distraction, which does nothing towards solving the core problem. Instead, it ends up complicating other things as well as adversely impacting your overall health.

Can stress cause joint paint Avoid smoking, drugs, and alcohol as a way to relief stress. Source:


4. Don't Overthink About the Stressor

Whether it is a fight with a friend or family, poor performance at the office, not meeting your goals, or merely any random thought that is causing stress – avoid overthinking about it.

Thinking too much about the stressor would only lead to persistent stress response and end up taking a toll on your mental health. What's best is to be optimistic and trying to move on with life.

You can take Beherbal's Chill Pill as an anti-anxiety formula for a clear and peaceful mind. It helps to calm down your mental anxiety and help prevent the adverse symptoms of stress on your body.

5. Organize Your Life

Clustered room, haphazard work schedule, out-of-order sleeping routine; are all the numerous factors that can add up and trigger the stress response. Keep your house and workplace organized. Time management is also an integral part of an organized lifestyle. Set small and realistic goals. Celebrate small things in life, take out time for fun once in a while. Don't let worries overshadow your happiness and peace.


6. Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle

The secret to a healthy life is eating healthy food and getting a good night's sleep. Avoid eating too much junk food, add fresh fruits and veggies to your daily dietary routine. Exercising regularly and maintaining weight can help your body by stimulating the release of beneficial chemicals in your body that keep stress levels in check. You can always add natural supplements such as Golden Saffron Extract to your daily routine that will help you stay fit and healthy.


7. Get Help If You Need It

If you think your problems are too big to handle yourself, never hesitate to seek professional help. A psychiatrist or a therapist can help you grow out your problems seamlessly. Talking and sharing your concerns with a professional will have more positive results than you can expect. [8]


Bottom Line

Stress is inevitable. However, running from your circumstances and tensions will do no good. Instead, identifying the stressors, acknowledging them courageously, and tackling them bravely is your best bet. You need to realize that everyone has problems, but in order to overcome those, you need to deal with them tactfully. One way to do it is to relax and focus on positive things in life. Try to practically espouse the famous quote by George Bernard Shaw, “Write your bad times in sand but good times in stone!”




  1. Mcwilliams, Lachlan & Goodwin, Renee & Cox, Brian. (2004). Depression and anxiety associated with three pain conditions: Results from a nationally representative sample. Pain. 111. 77-83.10.1016/j.pain.2004.06.002.
  2. Kindler, Stefan et al. Depressive and Anxiety Symptoms as Risk Factors for Temporomandibular Joint Pain: A Prospective Cohort Study in the General Population. The Journal of Pain, Volume 13, Issue 12, 1188 – 1197.
  3. Stress. Cleveland Clinic. May 2015.
  4. Stress on the inside. Lumen – Introduction to Psychology.,ACTH)%20(Figure%201).
  5. Zhang JM, An J. Cytokines, inflammation, and pain. Int Anesthesiol Clin. 2007;45(2):27-37. doi:10.1097/AIA.0b013e318034194e.
  6. Carpi J. Stress: It's Worse Than You Think. Psychology Today. Jan, 1996.
  7. How stress affects arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.
  8. Stress and arthritis. UW Medicine – Orthopedics and sports medicine.