Is there a Connection Between Stress and Pain?

Is there a Connection Between Stress and Pain?

Stress has a direct link to pain. Think about it. When a person is regularly dealing with pain that is affecting the ability to live a normal daily life, it can lead to feelings of stress. But the reverse can also happen, and chronic stress can lead to physical pain. During times of stress, it is not uncommon for muscles to tense. If this continues, it can lead to pain. 

Breaking the Cycle

It doesn’t really matter whether stress has caused the pain or vice versa. What matters is breaking the cycle between the two because unless it is broken, the pain and feelings of stress will continue. This is where pain management physicians can help. According to Utah pain management center KindlyMD, treating the source of the pain or stress can help to break the cycle. 

The way in which pain management doctors work is to hold a full consultation with the patient, where they will look at issues that may be causing the pain or the stress. Doctors face a challenge because treating the pain alone is not always sufficient. Providing relief for the pain may do nothing to stop the cause of the stress and the cycle will then continue. 

During the initial consultation with the pain doctor, the patient will be asked a variety of questions about the type of pain they have and how severe it is. But the doctor will also want to know more about the patient’s history of illness, both physical and mental, and information about lifestyle and diet. The more questions that the doctor asks, the more of an understanding they will get regarding what could be causing the pain or stress. 

For example, the doctor might discover that the patient has an incredibly stressful job that is causing things like tension headaches or backache. It could also be that the patient has an extremely poor diet that has caused her to put on a lot of weight, which is then causing inflammation of the joints, leading to pain. The pain is making it difficult for the patient to sleep, which is becoming very stressful. 

As you can see, finding out more about the patient’s life will give the doctor a fuller picture of what is going on and will make it easier to treat the person as a whole, rather than just focusing on the pain. 

Treatments for Chronic Pain and Stress

When chronic pain and stress are interlinked, it is important that both issues are addressed in order to break the cycle. In some instances, the simple act of relieving the pain can also eliminate the feelings of stress, but that is not always the case. 

If stress is causing the pain, then the doctor might recommend therapies or alternative treatments that may help with this. This could include some of the following: 

  • meditation
  • massage
  • yoga or Pilates
  • breathwork
  • mindfulness
  • cognitive behavioral therapy 
  • exercise
  • diet changes.

If pain is the cause of the stress, then the above will also work but the doctor might also include other treatments, such as: 

  • acupuncture
  • physical therapy
  • medical cannabis
  • drug therapy
  • pain relief injections 
  • TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). 


There is a link between stress and chronic pain, with one often being the cause of the other. Pain doctors are specially trained to identify the root cause of a patient’s problems and provide treatments that will help to relive both stress and pain. These treatments may be physical or psychological and aim to help the person as a whole rather than just the symptoms.

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