What is Anxiety – How does it affect pain?

What is Anxiety – How does it affect pain?

Anxiety contributes to how your pain affects you.

  • As the brain interprets signals from an injury, high anxiety may amplify the messages reaching your brain which are interpreted as pain. You receive more signals than the injury deserves.
  • Anxiety influences how you interpret the pain messages. If you are on holidays you might just take it easy for a day. Wheras if you have a vital work or social engagement you may perceive your pain as much more of a threat.
  • When you are not sleeping well the nervous system does not have the opportunity to rest and recover from its daily activity.
  • See: https://intouchphysio.com.au/physiotherapy/pain-relief/

Relaxed and Active

What causes anxiety?

Two million Australians will experience symptoms each year. Find out what’s behind this common mental health condition.

Anxiety can take many different forms:-

Common causes include:

  • A family history of mental health conditions
  • Developing and managing a chronic disease
  • Stressful life events – the loss of a loved one, a job or end of a relationship.

Types of  disorders

Around 25% of Australians have sought treatment for an anxiety disorder 

Your level of symptoms can influence your pain interpretation.

These disorders also include:

  • Panic disorders
  • Social phobias
  • Specific phobias (claustrophobia and agoraphobia)
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Symptoms take both an emotional and physical form.

These can include:

  • Excessive worry or feelings of apprehension
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • An increased heart rate.

How can you treat anxiety?

There are lots of small changes you can make in your own life that can help reduce your anxiety.

  • Regular physical exercise has been shown to help management
  • Limiting caffeine
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques can also help.
  • Medication can be recommended by your GP or therapist.

Medication may make your anxiety more manageable so that you sleep better and are then able to do more active treatments yourself or with a therapist.

Getting help

If you think you might be experiencing anxiety and it’s negatively impacting your life, speak to your GP.  Ask for a longer consultation. They’ll be able to help diagnose the problem and suggest the right treatment.

For pain related anxiety:

See www.intouchphysio.com.au (Pain on top Line.) The charts show how your thought viruses affect your pain experience.

Phone, Email or book a consultation online if you would like to ask whether I can help ease and turn around your pain experience.

For mental health information and support


beyondblue on 1300 22 4636

LifeLine on 13 11 14.**

Helen Potter Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist Subiaco

  • 9381 6166
  • helen@intouch.899design.com.au


10th October 2017, What is Anxiety? Written by Bonnie Palmer Medibank
modified by Helen Potter FACP

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