Muscle Aches and Pains Caused By Anxiety

Anxiety symptoms manifest themselves in a million and one ways. Whether it’s your thoughts, headaches, or palpitations the bottom line is if you can feel or think something than anxiety can intensify it. The same is also true for your muscles and their reaction to your constant state of anxiety.

When you feel anxiety and tension for a prolonged period of time this will eventually lead to sore and even painful muscles. This type of tension can make your legs feel like big noodles and give you the feeling that your legs are about to buckle from underneath you. But fear not this is adrenaline at work and not some mystery disease.

Even small doses of adrenaline can alter the normal contractions of our muscles. This can cause not only weakness, but also aches, pain or even rapid vibration also known as twitching. This phenomenon can affect your legs, arms, chest, back even your scalp in the form of numbness and tingling. So what do you do?

The best remedy for this very common anxiety symptom is to exercise (click here for ideas). Exercise helps with your aching muscles because it helps to “burn” off adrenaline and allows your muscles to reduce the tension that is causing all the pain and weakness.

Remember that exercise means moderate to intense physical exertion for 30 minutes or more. This doesn’t mean that you need to become an Olympic athlete overnight, it just means that if you’re going to take a walk for example that you make it a brisk walk. Walking down the street slowly and lazily is not going to help much. In addition be sure to make your exercise regiment at least three times a week. And it’s also a good idea to do any exercise with a friend or family member to keep the motivation up. Over the first few weeks of getting active you may feel more sore than usual, but once you build tolerance it will do wonders for your sore and achy muscles. And be nice to your muscles and stay hydrated (drink lots of water).

That’s not all. The increased physical activity will not only help your muscles but it will also contribute to an overall healthier and happier you. As you burn off adrenaline and release endorphins you will create a balance that is conducive to feelings of calmness and peace of mind. Do you hate chest pains? Well exercise will also help with this and any other anxiety symptom related to your muscular system. So don’t be lazy and get proactive about how you feel.

Stretchin’ To The Classics


  1. says

    I work with a few diabetic patients that have a high level of anxiety and I just want to add the factors of massage to the treatment of both:

    Relaxation: The value of basic relaxation cannot be overemphasized. Living with diabetes is inherently a stressful condition. Fluctuating blood sugar levels put tremendous strain on the body’s systems. The practical demands of balancing intake of insulin or oral medications, blood glucose monitoring, nutrition and exercise can seem like a daunting task for many.

    Circulation: Massage increases the circulation of blood and lymph, facilitating the transport of oxygen and other nutrients into the body’s tissues.

    Myofascial Effects: Massage works directly with the muscles (myo) and connective tissues (fascia), helping to facilitate greater mobility in the body. This is especially important for the diabetic because elevated blood sugars cause a thickening of connective tissue, which in turn affects mobility and elasticity of the myofascial system.

    I just though the readers of this blog might be or know someone that is living with diabetes

  2. Matt says

    I have been living with terrible anxiety for the past 3 years. I have developed aches and pains throughout my entire body especially in all my joints. My neck often feels so tight and painful it is hard for me to get out of bed because i feel dizzy. On my best days i try to be active and even attempt some physical excercise. But the result of my exercise the following days just makes my pain even worst. I know that exercise could be the key to solving my physical pain but i cant seem to get past the initial soreness i feel from pushing myself. I use to take Xanax daily and it seemed to make my body not ache so much. I quit taking it because i knew it was just a bandaid and not a solution to my problems. Should i use Xanax occaisionally if it helps me get to the gym on those days my mind is creating too much discomfort?

  3. Judi says

    I have had to use Xanax on and off for anxiety and panic and a very low dose for sleep
    if I wasn’t getting any, once in a while.
    But after stopping Welbutin I had to increase the Xanax and was having to increase it which
    I believe that at a certain amount you/I started to feel more down. I think it was starting to
    make me drag. I was taking one a day but for maybe a month.
    I backed off slowly, but ended up starting Zoloft, 25mg.
    I am back at the gym after 4 months off which I know I have to never quit the gym.
    I need the mental boost.

    First step is consistency, just get there and do a little. Give yourself time to build up some strength. Depending on your age, it can vary in the length of time that takes.
    I wouldn’t take the xanax to go to the gym, either, but afterward try to get hot bath, extra sleep, pamper yourself a little. If I work-out good, it takes me 2 days to recoup. Not as young as I used to be, but I am building up now. It has been a month and I can tell a difference.

  4. Matt says

    Thanks Judi. when i was taking xanax i was only taking .25mg 3 to 4 times a day. i was on anti depressants for like 6 months but i really did not like them so i quit. Now i will take like half a xanax if i feel like i cant sleep or am really feeling like crap. I am only 25 years old but i swear i feel like im well in my 50’s. I use to be a workout hound until i went to college. I was really active in sports all my life so it is really frustrating to feel this way. I have been trying to go to the gym and just doing light workouts to build up my strength again. Its been hard but i hope that it will make me feel better in the long run. I already sleep much better than i have in the past i think because i am releasing more testostrone at the gym.

  5. julie says

    I was.diagnosed.with severe anxiety disorder and depression. I take xanax twice a day everyday & an anti depressant once a day. I have body aches a lot of the times, I don.t even feel like gettin out of bed . I started walkin to see if it helps and its made a difference. I would however love to know if they’re are any alternative methods to help with my anxiety….

  6. lillias Mclachlan says

    I was diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder and depression i take citalapram and propranolol but i feel i’m going mad as i am getting sore left arm pain and i keep thinking i’m going to take a heart attack as i didn’t think that anxiety could give you joint pain i need a bit of advice. thankyou

  7. ashley says

    my name is ashley im 22 , i didnt have the best life growing up but i was always a popular funny cool person, when 911 happened i started developing amxiety , some attacks last for hours some for minuets some for days , right now is the worst i ever had it and actually its a really good time in my life , i tried celexa i tried ativan i tried counsling i tried excercise i just dont know when its comming and thats why im not always prepared , but does anyone get really bad headaches that last for weeks w their anxiety ?

  8. Curt says

    Hi, I just started taking Paxil (once daily) and Xanax (every 8 hours .25 mg) yesterday due to anxiety. I feel like I’m aching in places I shouldn’t be. Knees, under arms, neck, etc. I’m wondering if I’m actually hurting more than usual or if my mind is “creating” these feelings or sensations. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac which does not help. I feel fatigued after taking the meds but no real relief. Thanks for any help.

  9. jake says

    The best thing you can do immediately is see a therapist who specializes in relaxation techiques.
    There are also cd’s you can listen too, but once you learn how to mentally relax your body then your mind you can help youself limit the extent of attacks when you feel them coming. You also have to tell yourself to STOP thinking that kind of thought.

  10. amber says

    Hi, I’ve been having some odd swelling just above my ankles… And was wondering if it is from my anxiety, or something more serious. Doc doesn’t seem to know. Anyone seen this before? My feet are not swollen but often pretty bad… Please help if you know something…

  11. amber says

    Hi, I’ve been having some odd swelling just above my ankles… And was wondering if it is from my anxiety, or something more serious. Doc doesn’t seem to know. Anyone seen this before? My feet are not swollen but often hurt* bad… Please help if you know something… Sorry about typo…

  12. Springdale Clinic says

    Aches and pains are commonly occurred in our life, but if the pains are occurring regularly these pains an be occurred by frustration and stress. Stretching, massage and intake of healthy nutrients can be help to overcome muscle ache and pains.

  13. jessica says

    Does anyone get sharp pains in their shoulders and various places in arms ? It’s scaring me crazy!! I have horrible stress and anxiety and out of the blue all these pains came on! I’ve had a heart monitor and an keg been to ER.. they say it’s anxiety.. I am scared I am having heart problems..

  14. Mel says

    I always get sever stiff neck along with headaches because i clinich my teeth when stressed out. Recently i have been very stressed, but i started having very bad pain and spasming in my calves and now it goes up into my hips. I have been so scared because i have never experienced anything like this before with my anxiety and hope it is nothing bad. Ofcourse i am scared being not even 30 years old with these pains. Anyone have the claf pain and spasming?

  15. Summer says

    Hi. I’m a 24 year old female. For the past month and a half, my life has drastically changed. I’ve always had anxiety and been slightly depressed, but it’s gotten out of my control. It all started with bad headaches and pain in my jaws and neck. I had a migraine for 12 days. It was hell. I had a CT scan, various blood work and neurological exams. Everything was normal. Then I started getting severe muscle tension and my legs would tingle, especially at night. This led to a MRI of my brain and a chest xray and more blood work. In the meantime, my anxiety and depression multiplied greatly. When you feel bad every day, you’re obviously going to be anxious, which leads to more health problems. Now my muscle tension is so severe that my entire upper back, neck and chest is in knots. My spine hurts and I can’t get to sleep at night, which causes even more problems during the day. I dread going to work every morning. I break down and have to go to the bathroom and cry because I’m in so much pain. Every muscle in my body hurts, even my bones hurt. I have tension headaches and my heart pounds at night and I feel like I’m having a heart attack. I’ve had more X-rays of my back, and every single time everything comes out normal. The doctors keep telling me it’s anxiety, stress and depression. I don’t even enjoy being with my family anymore. All my friends and coworkers around me are laughing and loving their life while I stare off into the distance and zone out. I can’t even remember the last time I was happy, peaceful and calm. How can anxiety and depression change my life so much and make me feel so bad? I have no energy to even play with my daughter. I constantly have to tell her ‘Mommy doesn’t feel well today, again.’ It’s embarrassing and I hate it. Can anyone suggest any medication? I haven’t asked my doctor for anything because I don’t like drugs, but I’m struggling to get by. I would like something with as little side effects as possible. Something that will calm me down and cheer me up. I have to do something. The side effects of anxiety are real. They aren’t all in your head. Good luck to anyone who is living with these issues and please know you aren’t alone. Best wishes.

  16. Summer says

    Oh, and yes, Mel, the muscle spasms in my legs are awful. When I get into bed, I have spasms all over my body, but they’re the worst in my legs and back. The only things I have found to be helpful are;

    -hot showers before bedtime or a bath
    -hot towels on legs & back
    – massages
    – vitamin D and B12
    – glass of wine (if you like wine)

    You have to give yourself ‘me’ time. Try reading a comforting book in the tub before bed and give yourself some time to unwind.

    Hope this helps. It gives me a little relief since I’m not on medication.

  17. Bryce says

    Summer I feel terrible for you and know exactly what you mean. I look at everyone and wonder how they can be so happy and laughing . I always feel like something is wrong with me and once I am convinced one thing isn’t wrong I come up with another . I am very lost on what to do like you are . Right now I am getting muscle weakness and sore spots and I’m losing my mind because of it!

  18. Barbie says

    I can say from direct experience that using Xanax and other benzodiazipenes was the worst decision I ever made to address anxiety. They are intended for short-term use, 2-3 weeks tops, a temporary bandaid. Used longer, even at a low doses physical dependency became my demon, followed by slow, painful withdrawal. Hard lesson learned.

    I highly advocate getting to the heart of anxiety issues in a natural way, as Paul says, and learning skills that can bring relief, functionality and enjoyment back into ones life. I’d recommend an initial check up with a doc, for reassurance. Then get on with the process, whether with this blog, or a somatic or CBT therapist. No time like the present!

  19. Bianca says

    How are you guys feeling? I have health anxiety too. It go really bad to the point where all my muscles hurt me and have muscle twitches i dont know if it is from the anxiety or something else as im still seeing my gp to see if i need to be trasferred to a specialist. It all started after a long period of 3 months of stress and anxiety. But all i need to know is how to get rid of this muscle pain? Im scared to exercise as it usually makes it worse. Also my joints clicks most of the time. Can this be a symptom
    Of anxiety?????

  20. emm says

    I am in soo much pain right now due to anxiety and muscular pains all over my body.I can hardly think straight it is that bad, I am going through a stressful period in my life at the moment, The physical pain in my muscles is just too much to bare….help?? I even have pain in my hands and feet, it is truly unbearable until it wears off sometimes after hours at worst it lasts for days with no let up, constant headache and rushing adrenaline feeling in my body , feels like brain is ticking over too quickly, can’t relax enough to even think straight, every muscle in my body is pained from head to toe, jaw clamps so my facial area, neck and back are in agony.As I am writing this now my hands are so painful I can barely type. I have a bad noisy neighbour and have just broken up with someone and realise this will be contributing to my anxiety being bad at the moment. I just need some reief from the muscular pains….

  21. Carla says

    Ive been feeling the same way as most of you i had my daughter 8 months ago since then i have gone trough a lot of stress in my life towards the end of December i was going trough horrible stress economically and emotionally with lots of lack of sleep i would get daily headaches but then they got worse and they told me they were tension headaches i then started getting terrible anxiety and panick attacks it got alittle better once i started taken zoloft but now ive been getting joint stiffnes and hand numbness my whole body feels heavy when i walk i thought it could be arthritis or something more serious Im still waiting for the blood results. Im only 22 and i also feel like no one else understands me feel like crying all the time. The only thing i can do now is start exercising try to relax and have hope in God things will get better

  22. Gabrielle Wainwright says

    Hi everyone,

    not sure if here is the right place to post, but here goes anyway. At the beginning of this year i moved out of home, which was more of a relief than anything. However, i had an endoscopy at the end of Jan which i was extremely nervous about. One week after the endoscopy i started feeling dizzy, like extreme, to the point it was giving me panic attacks. This lasted 4 days, went to the ER, they said it was the start of a virus, which i thought was strange. i went home and symptoms subsided, i still felt anxious though for a week after. February month i was completely fine up until march the 17th. I started getting dizzy again, this time worse and it has lasted up until now. At first i was just dizzy feeling and generally feeling anxious about it, to the point after a week i was devastated crying. Have been to three doctors all say it is a virus, they checked my blood for b12, anemia etc. my throat inflamed a little red and have a mild fever. i am now in my third week and it hasnt gotten better, i have severe pain in my back and neck, dizziness, now i feel nauseated and so weak its hard to move, this has been happening for 4 days now. i am a full time student and cant really afford to stop now. I find it hard to believe a virus can last 3 weeks. i have generally been an anxious person and depressed when living at home. Please help! i havent had CT scans/MRI yet, as the doctor thinks its a virus. i dont think they take me too seriously. and when i had a breakdown in the doctors, she believed i had anxiety. but i said to her of course im going to have anxiety i have no idea what the hell is happening to me!
    the dizziness is the worse part and the pain. i just want to know if ive developed anxiety from having a virus, though i dont understand why im so thirsty and in pain and get temperature?

    any advice would be so appreciated regards
    Gabby x

  23. Patrick says


    I have been dealing with something similar to you and it has me down as well. I have had bad anxiety since 2011 after a bad break up. It started when I felt out of the blue like I was going to pass out. It scared me obviously. Everything checked out and was given antidepressants. Back to 2015, I still have daily anxiety, pills do seem to do much. Xanax works but I take when crucial to function at either half a .25 or max .5mg. It’s even hard for me to go out in large public crowds, I never had that problem ever before.

    Jan 2015, just coming off the holidays which are greatly stressful to anyone, I came down with a sinus infection. Feb I came down with another. March I came down with a horrible cold. Now April I have been experiencing horrible muscle spasms, cramps, twitching. It is symmetrical and started in my triceps moved to biceps then to calves and hamstrings. I was terrified, made the worst mistake you can make and googled my symptoms which put me in a deep and dark depressed state not eating and just sleeping as much as I could. Not saying a word to a soul and needing my mother it seemed. I am 29 btw. I wanted to sob, break down, stood in the shower with my head against the tile in a blank gaze.

    Blood tests the doctor took all came back normal besides elevated b12 which is urinated out and some inflammation which was a small amount she wasn’t concerned with. Cramping didn’t subside even after being told this which only made it worse mentally.

    I started to do deep stretching which helped. She told me to take 600mg of ibuprofen. I still feel tense when coming off ibuprofen. Thinking back, I play hockey but currently we aren’t playing at the moment so I have been idle. Being sick will stress anyone out. Sedentary lifestyles are bad for anyone. A combo of both and being stressed for so long I finally realize that it is most likely my cause for muscle issues.

    A lot of times we do this to ourselves with constant worry. I’m just like everyone else, first sign of abnormality is to panic and delve into reasons why asking yourself am I dying. It’s hard to relax but alas that is what we need do.

    Hang in there, you’re not alone. Hang in there as best as you can. Try the ibuprofen, stretching, how shower, massaging. Trust me, exercise is the last thing I feel like doing because it makes the anxiety worse during it, but it’s a major factor is depleting adrenaline build up, getting blood flowing, and improving overall mental/physical well being.

  24. Gil Maldonado says

    Hello, I have been dealing and feeling anxiety since I was 6 yrs old. Being a child that age you know nothing about anxiety and its symptoms. I am now 46 and its only been a few years that I found out what this spacey, anxious, nervous feeling was. Ive read almost every pamphlet and booklet out there concerning anxiety and depression, I have even had personal courses in dealing with anxiety and depressioin. I know and have felt every symptom many people have felt being headaches, nausea, joint pain, dizziness, vomiting,bloating you name it, been there done that. Dont feel discouraged and dont give up, I admit in giving up more than once and feeling like Im the only being on this planet that feels this way, but that is not so, we are very inteligent and perfectionist people. Focus in the present and enjoy it, theres 2 things we cannot change, the past and the future, but we can change the present. we tend to be negative thinkers which creates even more anxiety, but remember its only a thought not a fact. We take things to the extremes and all that “what if” thinking just makes us exhausted and feel like we’re losing our mind but its only our mind going into a break so to say when we have a million things going on up there. We internalize all that energy instead of letting it out for something creative and exciting. I can guarantee you that you will not lose your mind by feeling anxious, look how far Ive come and sometimes I even laugh about the way I feel. I do get frustrated and maybe angry once in a while, we are human and we deserve to feel good or at least normal right? I hope my posting and experiences help people like myself dealing with this, remember its a disorder not an illness, best of luck and God Bless Everyone.

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