Back Pain, Stiffness, Soreness, Tension, Spasms, Immobility - anxiety symptoms
Back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, immobility anxiety symptoms description:
Because anxiety symptoms are often described in subjective terms, there can be many descriptions of this anxiety back pain symptom. Here are some of the more common descriptions of this back pain symptom:
- You experience frequent back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, immobility anxiety symptoms.
- It feels as if your back is often painful, stiff, and sore.
- Your back is so sore that it causes restriction to mobility.
- You regularly, and without apparent reason, experience back pain, stiffness, and soreness.
- You feel a constant tension, soreness, and pain in your back from seemingly normal tasks.
- You may have a difficult time sleeping due to chronic back pain.
- You find you are taking pain relievers more frequently because of unrelieved back pain, stiffness, and soreness.
- You find that the muscles in your back frequently spasm.
- You experience frequent muscle spasms due to on going back pain and stiffness.
These back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, and immobility anxiety symptoms can persistently affect one area of the back only, can shift and affect another area or areas in the back, and can migrate all over and affect many areas of the back over and over again.
These back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, and immobility anxiety symptoms can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel back pain once in a while and not that often, feel it off and on, or feel it all the time.
These back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, and immobility anxiety symptoms may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.
These back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, and immobility anxiety symptoms 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.
These back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, and immobility anxiety symptoms can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.
These back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, and immobility anxiety symptoms can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.
All of the above combinations and variations are common.
These back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, and immobility anxiety symptoms often seem more disconcerting when undistracted or when trying to rest or go to sleep.
How does anxiety cause back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, and immobility symptoms?
Stress, including the stress that being overly anxious can cause, can cause back problems, including the symptoms we listed above.
When we’re stressed, the body secretes stress hormones, which are stimulants, into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat—to either fight with or flee from it—which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.
One of the tasks stress hormones perform is to cause muscles in the body to contract (tighten). Tight muscles make the body more resilient to attack when in dangerous situations.
Unfortunately, when stress is caused by anxiety (worry, fretting, fearful thinking) and not by a real physical threat where tight muscles may be beneficial for survival, the body still prepares against danger the same way, by causing muscles to tense and tighten, including the muscles in the back. Back pain, tension, and stiffness are all common symptoms of stress- and anxiety-caused muscle tension.
As long as stress and anxiety persist, so will their symptoms, including this one.
Tight back muscles can cause a wide variety of aches and pains. Many doctors who specialize in back problems are now seeing a direct correlation between stress (including stress caused by psychological and emotional problems) and back problems. Dr. Sarno is one of the most noteworthy.
If you are experiencing persistent back problems, you may want to seek out a doctor or physiotherapist who is familiar with how the negative effects of stress can affect the back. His or her insight may help you more appropriately address your back issues.
How to get rid of anxiety caused back pain, stiffness, soreness, spasms, and immobility symptoms?
Fortunately, there are some relatively quick ways to alleviate muscle tension symptoms, including the muscles in the back.
Short-term solutions include:
- Anything that reduces your body’s stress can help, such as deep relaxation, rest, and getting good sleep.
- Regular light to moderate exercise can also help loosen tight muscles, such as those responsible for chronic back pain.
- Heating pad (heat causes tight muscles to loosen).
- Having a warm bath.
- Have a massage.
- Vibrator on the back (vibration can help loosen tight muscles and stop muscle spasms).
- Avoiding stimulants (stimulants stress the body).
- Muscle relaxants.
- Gentle/mild stretching.
- Slowing down a hectic schedule or lifestyle.
- Taking some time off so that your body can reduce its stress.
- Regular hobby/play time.
- Whirlpool or hot tub (as long as the heat is comfortable and not distressing).
- Having fun.
- Being hugged, held, or caressed by your mate, spouse, or loved one.
ANY activity that helps you relax can help alleviate tight muscles.
Certainly, the best way to diminish and eliminate muscle tension symptoms is to faithfully practice the recovery strategies we mention in Chapter 4 in the Recovery Support area and address the underlying factors of your anxiety so that your body’s stress can be sufficiently reduced. This combination provides long-term relief from these types of symptoms (as well as ALL symptoms of stress and anxiety).
While this symptom in and of it self is not harmful or serious, sustained muscle tension can lead to high blood pressure and increased stress over time. Therefore you should take action to address your higher than normal level of stress so that you can keep your stress low and within a healthy range, which can prevent stress related health problems down the road.
Nevertheless, as with all symptoms of stress, this symptom will disappear when you’ve done the right work. Therefore this symptom needn’t be a cause for concern.
Play the clip below for Jim Folk's commentary about the anxiety symptom back pain. Jim Folk is the president of anxietycentre.com.
Back pain is a common symptom of elevated stress, including the stress anxiety can cause. Jim Folk experienced all of the anxiety symptoms mentioned at this website, with many to severe degrees during his 12 year struggle with anxiety disorder.
If you are having difficulty containing your worry about your back pain symptoms, you may 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, and especially, what seems like unmanageable worry.
For a more detailed explanation about anxiety symptoms, why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.
1. Lundberg, U, et al. “Psychophysiological Stress Responses, Muscle Tension, and Neck and Shoulder Pain among Supermarket Cashiers.” NCBI PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 1999, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10431284.
2. Ellegaard, Hanne , and Birthe D Pedersen. “Stress Is Dominant in Patients with Depression and Chronic Low Back Pain. A Qualitative Study of Psychotherapeutic Interventions for Patients with Non-Specific Low Back Pain of 3–12 Months' Duration.” BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, BioMed Central, 6 Sept. 2012, bmcmusculoskeletdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2474-13-166.
3. Abdallah, Chadi G, and Paul Geha. “Chronic Pain and Chronic Stress: Two Sides of the Same Coin?” NCBI PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5546756/.
The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder coach, counselor, or therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.
For more information about our Anxiety Counseling option; our Available Anxiety Therapists; to Book An Appointment with one of our anxiety therapists; common Anxiety Signs and Symptoms; common Anxiety Attack Symptoms; the symptoms of panic attack disorder; anxiety Recovery Support area; information about Anxiety; and our Anxiety 101 section; or click on the appropriate link or graphic below:
Return to our anxiety symptoms page.
Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated October 9, 2018.