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How Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain, Science Explains

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

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, over-thinking and emotional triggers. Be sure to take time out of every day to relax. Do something that eases the tension.



2. Neck Pain

Trouble Forgiving

Are you saying that something ore someone is a pain in the neck? Are you cursing yourself for something for too long, or unable to forgive people who hurt you? Perhaps there's unresolved issues in relationships, especially with parents, children or a past partner. Maybe you even feel victimized.  Pain in your neck indicates trouble with forgiving others (or even yourself) and not expressing your true feelings. Sit and figure out what you need to let go of. 



3. Shoulder Pain

Emotional Burdens and Excess Responsibility

We say we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, right? Pain in your shoulders may indicate that you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities or holding onto too much emotional stress or strain.  Learn problem-solving skills and share your worries and tensions with your loved ones, co-workers or a counselor, therapist or life coach. There is no harm in seeking help and sharing the load!



4. Upper Back Pain

Lack of emotional support

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 (or even if you're not), you may think of ways to practice more self-love and compassion.



5. Lower Back Pain

Lack of security, financial strain or excess worry

Lack of emotional security can also cause lower back pain. Financial strains 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. Seek out a better job with higher pay. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for support.



6. Elbow Pain

Resistant to change

Pain in your elbow(s) 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 have difficulty making decisions in your life and are leaning too much on others. You may be over-extending yourself for others or felling that your efforts aren't being reciprocated. You may even be a bit of a control freak. It may be a good time to keep your options open, accept changes and new possibilities and release old or unrealistic ideas of how you think things should be. Learn to better "go with the flow" and see what life has to offer you ahead as you clear a path for a new direction.



7. Pain in Your Palms

Reaching out to others

We reach out to others and connect with our hands. When we're always lending a hand to everyone else but ourselves, this can cause our palms to hurt.  Healing and giving hands (especially the right hand) gravitate toward helping others, but we cannot save the entire world. You can only contribute to the lives of others where it is wanted and willing to be received and appreciated.  Alternately, if you are constantly looking for hand-outs (typically left-hand pain) or are holding too tightly to something out of fear (especially around the ability to work, create money or feed the family), this can also cause the palms to hurt. It's time to take charge, handle situations head-on and learn by doing to become stronger and more empowered.



8. Hip Pain

Carrying others' Responsibilities and Feeling Stuck in Life

Who/what are you carrying on your hip(s) that has you feeling undervalued or unacknowledged? Like a parent holds their child, some of us tend to carry the weight of others' responsibilities on our hips and it leaves us feeling used, taken advantage of or even manipulated. It's hard to move ahead in life under all of that access weight and baggage. It's time to move beyond the fear of disappointing others and unload some of those responsibilities that belong to others.

9. Knee Pain

Rigid, judgmental and inflexible

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 (even if it is a subconscious one) that you are superior to others and best at everything you do, therefore being controlling, ridged or inflexible. It's the mentality of "If I want something done right, I have to do it myself," and "My way of the highway." It’s time to humble yourself and start appreciating others’ efforts and hard work. Kill your ego to alleviate your knee pain. Give yourself permission to move forward with trust and love and be willing to allow others to make mistakes and be imperfect. You're not perfect either, and that's more than okay. ;)