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How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

Emotions Causing You Physical Pain

Can emotions cause physical pain?

Ups and downs are part of life, but when you’re hitting the rock bottom, it is common to experience an emotional roller coaster. 

Most of us know that problems in life can cause stress and damage our mental health. But, do you know that your emotions, thought and state of mind can affect physical health? Do you know emotional pain can also cause physical pain? 

Dr. Susan Babel, a psychologist that specializes in trauma-induced depression, says “Studies have shown that chronic physical pain might not only be caused by physical injury but also by stress and emotional issues.”

She further says that no doubt emotional stress causes stomach upsets, irritable bowel syndrome, but it can also cause other physical health issues like chronic physical pain. Based on recent studies she noted that when people are experiencing anxiety and stress, their muscles are in a tensed and constricted state. And, if you have an anxiety problem that remains unaddressed, over time, your muscles become fatigued and inefficient. 

Dr. Susan says “More subtly, one might develop psychosomatic symptoms or stress-related symptoms because of unresolved emotional issues”

So, whenever you are experiencing physical pain, it means you have got to work on your emotional issues. 

Do you know that pain can also be caused by a traumatic event? According to pain experts, around 15-30% of patients reporting chronic pain have a history of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The human nervous system goes into a survival mode upon experiencing a traumatic event. In this condition, the level of stress hormones like cortisol increases. But, after the event is over your body may not immediately revert back to the normal mode and the stress response remains high. This results in high blood pressure, blood sugar, weakening of the immune system, and delayed healing. In short, when your body is in a state of constant distress, poor physical health manifests.   

So, the next time you are troubled with lower back pain or headache, stop and think if it has to do with something else in your life!

Isn’t it good to know that your physical pain and emotional pain are interrelated? You can control your physical pain by checking your anxiety and stress levels as said by Dr. Murray Grossan of the Grossan Institute.

To help you get a better understanding of how your emotions cause physical pain, we have described various pains you experience and what do they mean.  

1. Headaches

How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

Caused by day to day stress in our lives

Headaches are unpleasing pains, which can be mild or severe as migraines. They are known to be triggered by day-to-day stress in our lives. According to a cross-sectional study, migraines are triggered by stress and emotional triggers. Be sure to take time out of every day to relax. Do something that eases the tension.

Related: Types of Headaches: Which One Do You Have?

2. Neck pain

How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

Trouble with forgiving others

Are you cursing yourself for something for long? Or unable to forget people who hurt you? Pain in your neck indicates trouble with forgiving others, or even yourself. Sit and figure out what you need to let go of. Toxicity is injurious to health! Focus on your strengths and the things you love about yourself. Practice forgiveness every day and stop being too harsh on yourself if you want to improve your overall physical health.

3. Shoulder pain

How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

Signifies that you are burdened with some sort of emotional pain

We say we carry a burden on our shoulders. Right? Pain in your shoulders may indicate that you’re burdened with some sort of emotional pain. Learn problem-solving skills and share your worries and tensions with your loved ones. There is no harm in seeking help!

Related: Psoas Muscle Pain Relief: 5 Ways To Heal the ‘Muscle of Your Soul’   

4. Upper back pain

How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

Lack of emotional support and feeling unloved

Often lack of emotional support is the cause of upper back pain. You might be feeling unloved or could even be holding your love back according to Rhonda Degaust, a self-help author and life coach. Spend more time with your loved ones, try and connect with old friends and If you’re single, you may think of a romantic relationship or marriage. 

5. Lower back pain

How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

Lack of emotional support, financial crisis and excess worry

Lack of emotional support can also cause lower back pain. The financial crisis and excess worry can exacerbate lower back pain, according to Dr. Mark W. Tong, a doctorate in natural healing. You may hire a financial planner to better handle your property and money matters. Also, you can look for a better job with high pay. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for support. 

Related: 8 Foot Exercises That Can Cure Back Pain in minutes

6. Pain in Your Elbow

How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

Indicates you are resistant to change in life

Pain in your elbows indicates that you are resistant to change in your life according to Dr Alan Fogel. If your arms are feeling stiff, it may mean that you’re too stiff or stubborn in your life. It may be a good time to keep your options open, accept changes, or make compromises. Negative emotion causes physical pain. So, just go with the flow and see what life has to offer you ahead.

7. Pain in Your Palms

How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

You might not be reaching out to others enough

We reach out to others and connect with our hands, we spread our arms when we want to hug someone. With your hands, you reach out to others and connect. If you’re feeling pain in your palms or hands, it may mean that you’re not reaching out enough according to Reiki practitioner, Lori D’Ascenzo. Get up, move out of your cozy bedroom and start making new friends. Join your community clubs or start therapy sessions to build that support system for yourself. 

8. Pain in the hips


Indicates you are afraid of moving ahead in life

According to Barbara Clark, If you’ve been afraid of moving ahead in life or probable changes in the future, that may manifest as a pain in the hips. Sore hips signify that you’re not ready to make major decisions in life. If you’re having some big ideas in your mind like starting your new business or traveling the world, it’s time to take action. Keep moving to get rid of that hip pain. 

9. Knee pain

How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

The sign of a big, fat EGO

Knee pain can be a sign of a big, fat ego as per Lawrence Michail, who writes about the metaphysical association between the physical body and emotional body. You might have a notion that you are superior to others and best at everything you do. It’s time to humble yourself and start appreciating others’ efforts and hard work. Start volunteering and spend some time with people from different walks of life and you will know everyone is gifted with something or the other talent. Kill your ego to alleviate your knee pain. 

10. Calves pain


Holding grudges or feeling jealous or high levels of stress

Are you experiencing emotional tension of any kind? Then it is highly likely to trigger calf pain as said by Dr. Laura Perry. Holding grudges or feeling jealous or high levels of stress can lead to sore calves and if unaddressed, it may worsen your health. Let go of the past and forget the hurtful events and take a pledge not to dwell in dark memories. 

Related: 7 Reasons Why Your Back is Hurting (And How To Alleviate It)

11. Ankle pain

How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

When you are devoid of pleasure

Are you exploring the pleasurable aspects of your life? If not then you should start considering it. According to author Jill Douglas and self-help guru Kathy Hadley, “Ankles represent the ability to receive pleasure.” Ankle pain may occur when you are devoid of pleasure. Add some spice to your love life, enjoy every moment and you will surely defeat the pain. 

12. Foot pain

How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

When you feel depressed and your mind is filled with negative thoughts.

Foot pain is quite common when you feel depressed and your mind is filled with negative thoughts. According to psychologist Dr. Adaobi Anyeji, negative self-talk increases stress and discomfort that manifests as physical pain. You can think of all the great good things in your life whether small or big, that add to joy and happiness. You may invest your time and energy in learning something new or doing some noble work for the well-being of others. 

Related: 10 Types of Physical Pain Indicating Emotional Problems 

Dr. Susan says that physical pain may occur even when one is not aware of traumatic events in their past or the outcomes of trauma. It is because the human body sticks to unresolved issues and that growing negative emotion causes physical pain. So, try to let go of those negative feelings and let positivity flow in your life. 

I hope you understood how the emotional body and physical body are associated. So, whenever you are experiencing physical pain, pause, take a deep breath, then retrospect and introspect your life. Sit down and pay attention to your needs, wants,  and what you don’t have. Label your emotions and figure out where the healing needs to be done. 

Share your thoughts in comments below and feel free to share the article with your friends.

Studies Find Physical Pain Correlates With Spiritual And Emotional Pain
Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain

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Louisa Davis

Hi there! I'm just a normal person enjoying the process of life. Practicing Buddhism, I believe in the law of cause and effect. Reading and writing is always a pleasure. I enjoy researching on a range of subjects – science, psychology, and technology. Nothing can satiate my soul than good music, horror movies, psycho-thriller, and crime stuff. I enjoy photography, music and watching comedy videos. Talking to people, learning new experiences, sharing my knowledge through blogs, motivating others are things that I always look forward to.View Author posts

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