Arm and hand pain causes: Emotional stress

Arm pain, Chronic pain, Hand pain, Understanding pain / Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

This is a series on the causes of arm and hand pain. There is a checklist for you at the beginning of this series.

We all hold our stress in different places depending on our personalities and life situations. I think we all understand from our own experience that negative emotions produce muscle tension. Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by John E. Sarno, M.D. is an excellent reference. Dr. Sarno believes that withheld or subconscious rage is a major cause of pain and states that “As long as the person’s attention remains focused on the pain syndrome, there is no danger that the emotions will be revealed.” (p.49) Further, he states that “Anything that heightens anxiety will increase the severity of symptoms.”

In my Neuromuscular Therapy practice near Boston I hear this often. Just recently three patients connected the return of pain with anxious thoughts or stressful situations. On another level of understanding, Carolyn Myss, a gifted medical intuitive, Barbara Brennan, the energy healing guru, Louise Hay, a popular teacher of the mental causes of physical illness, and Dr. James Oschman, a cell biologist, all connect negative energy with pain and dysfunction in our bodies.

While repressed emotions can certainly result in pain, this is not always the case. However, it is an opinion that is rapidly gaining ground in medicine and one which anyone with chronic pain would benefit from exploring.

On a physiological level, strong emotions produce chemical and hormonal reactions. Adrenalin rushes are a good example. When emotions don’t dissipate and become like tapes spinning in our heads, the chemicals and hormones produced build up and continue to cause physical reactions. Repressed or withheld emotions work the same way even though they have become subconscious. They still trigger physiological reactions that irritate the muscles and nerves.