Shooting Pains Anxiety Symptoms

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 19, 2021

shooting pain anxiety symptoms

Shooting pain, such as sharp stabbling pains in the head, chest, neck, scalp, or anywhere else on the body, are common symptoms of anxiety disorder.

Shooting pains anxiety symptoms:

You experience:

  • Sharp shooting and/or stabbing pains in/on anywhere on the body, such as the head, face, neck, shoulders, back, chest, stomach, groin, legs, feet, toes, arms, hands, fingers, and in the mouth.
  • You might also feel light to severe pressures regularly or sporadically in/on the body.
  • While these pains and pressures may feel different from one another, they are caused by the same reason.

They can also present in a wide variety and/or combinations, such as just shooting pains or just pressures, as well as a combination of stabbing pains and pressures. They don’t necessarily have to occur as one or the other, but commonly occur as a combination of pains and pressures.

Anxiety shooting pains can persistently affect one area of the body only, can shift and affect another area or areas, and can migrate all over the body and can affect many areas over and over again.

Anxiety shooting pains can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel shooting pains once in a while and not that often, feel them off and on, or feel them all the time.

Anxiety shooting pains may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

Anxiety shooting pains can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

Anxiety shooting pains can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. They can also come in waves, where the shooting pains are intense one moment and ease off the next.

Anxiety shooting pains can occur intensely for a moment or two, then disappear the next.

Anxiety shooting pains can persist for a few days, then completely disappear. Or they can persist indefinitely no matter what you do.

Anxiety shooting pains can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

To see if anxiety might be playing a role in your anxiety symptoms, rate your level of anxiety using our free one-minute instant results Anxiety Test, Anxiety Disorder Test, or Hyperstimulation Test.

The higher the rating, the more likely it could be contributing to your anxiety symptoms, including shooting pain anxiety symptoms.

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What causes anxiety shooting pains?

Medical Advisory

When shooting pains are caused by anxiety, the body contains many muscles and muscle groups. Muscles respond to nerve impulses. Nerve impulses cause muscles to move by contracting and releasing muscles. A muscle contracts (tightens) when it receives a nerve impulse, and releases (relaxes) when the nerve impulse stops.

The body is made up of muscles that respond to involuntary nerve messages (where the body decides when and how to use them) and voluntary nerve messages (where we decide when and how to use them).

When the body’s nervous system and muscle tensions are normal, the combination of nerve impulses and muscle responses work very well. As a result, the body functions normally and predictably.

When the body experiences a stress response[1][2] or is chronically stressed,[3] however, a number of conditions change, including:

  1. The body’s muscles become tighter (stress hormones cause muscles to tighten).
  2. The electrical activity in parts of the brain increases.
  3. The nervous system behaves more involuntarily and erratic.[4]
  4. The nerves responsible for receiving and reporting information to the brain become more sensitive and reactive (sensitivity and reactivity increase as stress hormone levels rise).

These changes can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including muscles that pulse, throb, twitch, spasm, or contract uncontrollably and involuntarily as the brain sends erratic nerve impulses to the body’s muscles.

These erratic nerve impulses can be sent to any of the body’s muscles and muscle groups. They can also be sent at any time and to any degree. Consequently, a wide variety of contractions from slight to dramatic can occur, which can cause the shooting sharp and stabbing pains.

While unsettling and even greatly painful at times, these shooting pains symptoms are harmless. They are just an indication of an active stress response and/or stress-response hyperstimulation.

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How to get rid of anxiety shooting pains?

When shooting pains are caused by apprehensive behavior and the accompanying stress response changes, calming yourself down will bring an end to the stress response and its changes. As your body recovers from the active stress response, this feeling should subside and you should return to your normal self. Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

When this feeling is caused by persistently elevated stress, it may take a lot more time for the body to calm down and recover…and to the point where anxiety- and stress-caused shooting pains are eliminated.

As with all anxiety sensations and symptoms, returning your body and nervous system back to their normal, non-hyperstimulated health reduces and eventually eliminates anxiety- and stress-caused sensations and symptoms, including shooting pains. But we have to be patient as we faithfully apply our recovery strategies, since recovering from hyperstimulation can take much longer than you might expect. It’s the faithful and diligent application of our recovery strategies that produces results. Recovery is seldom quick.

If the shooting pains become too painful, you can talk with your doctor about taking a pain reliever or muscle relaxant to help ease these types of symptoms when they are strong or greatly distracting.

Anxiety Therapy

If you are having difficulty with anxiety, its symptoms, and troublesome worry, you might want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome problematic anxiety.

All of our recommended therapists have experienced anxiety disorder, have successfully overcome it, and are medication-free. Their years of personal and professional experience make them an excellent choice to work with on your road to recovery.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page. Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Shooting Pains anxiety symptoms.


1. Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.

2. Folk, Jim and Folk, Marilyn. “The Stress Response And Anxiety Symptoms.”, August 2019.

3. Folk, Jim and Folk, Marilyn. "Stress-response Hyperstimulation.", Nov. 2019.

4. Teixeira, Renata Roland, et al. “Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015.