How And Why Anger, Stress And Anxiety Aggravate Chronic Pain

Chronic pain does not just exist in a void of only physical symptoms. People with chronic pain have true physical pain to be sure but there are many different factors that play into the perception of that pain.

Your emotional state plays a big role in how you see your pain and how it affects you. For example, when you are calm and in a good state of mind, pain tends to be less of a factor and you don’t feel it as much.

On the other hand, stressful situations and feelings of anxiety, stress, and anger magnify pain and you perceive it to be stronger.

The Mind/Pain Connection

All pain, regardless of where it comes from has physical origins. You might have chronic arthritic pain from rheumatoid arthritis or chronic muscle pain from fibromyalgia. The pain is felt, however, not in the tissues of the body but in your mind, which receives signals from the body that you are in pain. In a sense, it is the neurochemicals of the brain that allow you to feel or not to feel your pain.

Factors that influence your perception of the pain can come from the mind itself. When you feel anxious, your muscles tense up and you feel it as pain in your muscles. The same thing is true of situations in which you are angry.

Stress can exacerbate pain because you don’t have the energy to focus on calming yourself from the pain and are instead focused on the stressor. In a very real sense, there is a mind/pain connection that is active throughout your day.

Neurotransmitters within the brain affect the way you feel pain. Your brain makes endogenous endorphins, for example, that block pain perception and help you feel good. You can get endogenous endorphins in many ways, such as through exercise and through eating foods, you like. Endogenous endorphins are as strong as many narcotics in helping you feel the pain less.

On the other hand, when you are angry, stress, or anxious, you release other neurotransmitters that cause you to feel the sensations coming from the painful parts of your body more acutely.

Not only do these emotions cause the muscles to tense up but also they affect the way the brain perceives the pain and you feel more uncomfortable. 

Ways Your Mind Can Help You Control Your Pain

It is possible to use the powers of your mind in order to lessen your experience of pain. For example, when you meditate, you relax your muscles and calm your brain so that you can feel the pain to a lesser degree. Meditation is quite easy in many ways and can be taught to you by someone who knows about meditation or through a DVD or CD.

Whether or not meditation actually affects your brain chemicals is not yet known. What is known is that meditation is often prescribed for you by holistic doctors who understand that it has a strong impact on your pain perception.

You can also achieve pain relief by practicing certain exercises that calm your mind and decrease your perception of pain. One of these exercises is yoga. Through the use of various poses and concentration on your breathing, you can gain emotional balance and a diminishment of your pain sensation.

Another good exercise is tai chi; an ancient martial art turned healing practice. In tai chi, you go through various graceful poses that don’t put stress on your muscles or joints and focus on your breathing, inducing a relaxed state that decreases your perception of pain.

Qi gong is still another East Asian form of exercise that is similar to tai chi in that graceful movements are part of the exercise. All of these exercises can cut into the anger, frustration, stress, and anxiety that make you feel pain.

Aerobic exercise is also very efficient at reducing stress and anxiety, and can be utilized as your pain condition allows.


There is no question that anger, stress, and anxiety play a big role in your pain perception. The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce these negative emotions so that your pain condition is improved.

This is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat or diagnose any condition. For questions, please seek medical advise.