Health Anxiety - Can anxiety make you FEEL pain?

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New Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 9/8/2010 6:27 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi!  I am new to this forum.  In April, I noticed that my right big toe joint was red.  It didn't hurt, was just read.  Two months ago, the left big toe did the same thing.  I started googling (yeah, I know) and kept getting hits for gout and RA.  Shortly after, all my joints started popping (or did they always do that and I didn't notice?)  So, I made an appt to see my Internist, who told me that he would run some tests to put my mind at ease but felt I was ok.  Everything came out ok, including the Rheumatoid Factor and Gout (highly unlikely anyway b/c I am a 37yo female!)  I saw an ortho about my toes who did xrays and said my toes looked perfect, all ten.  No signs of arthritis.  For a couple of weeks, I let go and felt good.  Then, everything came rushing back and I started having joint pain here and there, sore muscles here and there, and my newest is an achy upper left arm.  For sure I have had panic attacks now.  I saw my dr again today and asked about anxiety.  He didnt want to prescribe anything until he ran some more tests - more for RA, Lupus, Lyme, Vitamin B deficiency, thyroid.  My friends, those with anxiety and without, are trying to convince me that I am ok, that my brain is telling me that I am hurting when I may not be.  I have no history of anxiety or depression or anything like that, but know I am anxious now.  What I don't know is: Am I anxious b/c there is really something wrong with me or is my anxiety causing me to think there is?  Anyone out there suffer from health anxiety and can it make me have aches, pains, weakness??? 

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 27100
   Posted 9/9/2010 7:20 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi and welcome to the forum! I haven't really experienced pain with my A/P, with the exception of the secondary type. (headaches as a result of tension, or heartburn for example) Our bodies certainly do react to stress however, so it stands to reason that if you have been given a clean bill of health from your dr. that it is anxiety related. Generalized anxiety disorder is known to cause general muscle aches and fatigue/weakness. Try some relaxation exercises (look on-line for progressive muscle relaxation, breathing techniques, or simple yoga practices) Good luck with this, and let us know how you are doing
Take care,
Scaredy Cat
"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 9/9/2010 8:32 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello and welcome browneyedgirl11,
Yes anxiety can cause physical sx and pain, however so can medical problems.  I am glad your Dr is doing more test as that says he is not brushing you off as just having anxiety.  I suspect your anxiety is a bit of both so wait to see the test results.
I had the same Dr for years and often felt blown off due to my "anxiety"  I went in with severe pain in my right thumb joint and was dx with tendonitis.  It did not get better so I saw a hand surgoen who xrayed my thumb joint and it turned out I had severe osteoarthritis in the joint.  I had bone on bone and after a trial of cortisone injections was advised I needed surgery.  So there you go - not in my head and not tendonitis but a condition that called for surgery. 
I now advocate for myself and yes I do see a therapist and P-doc for my mental health issues but when I have other probems that seem to be medical I refuse to be blown off. 
Stick with us as we are all here for you and we know where your coming from and what your going through.
Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.

"If you can't change the world, change your world"

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 358
   Posted 9/9/2010 3:41 PM (GMT -7)   
Anxiety manifests itself in different ways for different people. For me, I tend to have a lot of physical symptoms. It's never affected my feet specifically, but I'll get chest pain, arm pain (like a pulled muscle), a pins and needles feeling like my hands have fallen asleep, a piercing pain through my heart, a weird "clicking" feeling where my ribs converge, etc, etc.

I can't tell you if it's medical or anxiety induced in your case, so it's good that you're having the tests done. But regardless of the cause, what I can tell you is that worrying about it won't make it any better -- and if it is anxiety it can only make it worse. So keep up with the doctors, but you might want to also think about things that could be making you anxious, nervous, scared, etc. Sometimes our bodies exhibit things physically when we don't pay enough attention to our emotions. Is there anything that you know you need to deal with but would rather not?

BTW, there's a thread I started not too long ago about physical symptoms of anxiety if you want to look back a few pages for it. A number of people described what physical symptoms they have. It sounds though like you're handling things well. I wish you well and know that this is a supportive place.
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