Alleviating Anxiety and Chronic Pain

Alleviating Anxiety and Chronic Pain


If you suffer from chronic pain, you may be surprised to learn that anxiety could be the culprit. Anxiety and chronic pain are intimately connected, and understanding this connection could help you manage your symptoms more effectively. In this article, we'll explore the relationship between anxiety and chronic pain, and what you can do to alleviate your symptoms.

Identifying Anxiety

Anxiety can manifest itself in several ways, and its symptoms can vary from person to person. According to Mayo Clinic, common anxiety signs and symptoms include:1

  • Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping

These symptoms can lead to anxious tendencies including:

  1. Overthinking: Constantly analyzing past events, predicting negative future outcomes, or dwelling on worst-case scenarios.
  2. Restlessness and agitation: Feeling the need to be always doing something, unable to relax, or experiencing a sense of constant unease.
  3. Avoidance behavior: Evading situations, places, or people that trigger anxiety, often leading to a restricted lifestyle.
  4. Procrastination: Delaying or avoiding tasks due to fear of failure, criticism, or overwhelming stress.
  5. Perfectionism: Setting unrealistically high standards for oneself and experiencing significant distress when these standards are not met.
  6. Emotional reactivity: Experiencing intense emotional responses, such as sudden bouts of anger, irritability, or sadness, in reaction to stressors or perceived threats.
  7. Excessive reassurance seeking: Constantly seeking validation or reassurance from others due to self-doubt and fear of disapproval.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is a persistent pain that lasts for more than three months. It can be caused by several factors, including injury, surgery, or a medical condition such as arthritis. Chronic pain can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life, affecting their ability to work, socialize, and perform daily tasks.

The Connection between Anxiety and Chronic Pain

Anxiety and chronic pain are closely related, with anxiety often accompanying chronic pain. Understanding the link between anxiety and chronic pain is crucial in addressing both conditions. According to the Institute for Chronic Pain, anxiety is likely the most common condition that accompanies chronic pain.2

Anxiety can cause chronic pain by triggering uncontrollable stress responses in the body, which can cause muscle tension and inflammation. This can lead to aches and pains all over the body.3 Chronic pain can also cause anxiety by interfering with daily activities and reducing the quality of life. anxiety can exacerbate chronic pain symptoms by decreasing pain thresholds and altering pain perception.

Anxiety can cause changes in sleep patterns, which can lead to fatigue and exhaustion. Additionally, the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as muscle tension and pain, can also contribute to feelings of fatigue.The resulting cycle of anxiety and chronic pain can be difficult to break, but it's not impossible.

Poor posture and movement can contribute to both anxiety and chronic pain. When our bodies are not moving efficiently, it can lead to muscle imbalances, joint pain, and even nerve pain. Furthermore, poor posture can affect our breathing patterns and overall mood, which can exacerbate anxiety levels. By focusing on proper posture and movement, we can alleviate many of the physical symptoms associated with anxiety and chronic pain.

The Cycle

  1. Anxiety triggers stress responses in the body, leading to muscle tension and inflammation, which can cause aches and pains.
  2. Poor posture and movement patterns exacerbate both anxiety and chronic pain symptoms.
  3. Chronic pain interferes with daily activities and reduces quality of life, contributing to increased anxiety.
  4. Anxiety lowers pain thresholds and alters pain perception, worsening chronic pain.
  5. Sleep disturbances caused by anxiety lead to fatigue and exhaustion, which can further intensify the experience of chronic pain.
  6. Chronic pain heightens the risk of depression and anxiety due to its impact on overall well-being.
  7. The cycle of anxiety and chronic pain continues as each condition perpetuates and exacerbates the other, making it challenging to break free.

This cycle can seem like a slippery slope that may be overwhelming to overcome. At Functional Patterns, we address this by optimizing the FP Big 4: standing, walking, running, and throwing.

Results by HBS Ryan Parr

The FP Big 4 Solution

Functional Patterns offers a holistic approach to breaking the repeating cycle of anxiety and chronic pain. This system of training and movement re-education addresses the underlying biomechanical imbalances and movement patterns that contribute to both conditions. You can experience significant improvements in your posture, anxiety levels, and chronic pain management by training around the FP Big 4: standing, walking, running, and throwing.

Some essential FP strategies for managing anxiety and chronic pain include:

  • Assessing and correcting posture: Proper joint stacking is the foundation of a pain-free and anxiety-free life.
  • Prioritize the FP Big 4: FP corrective exercises account for the variables to optimize the functions humans perform the most.
  • Developing efficient movement patterns: By re-educating the body to move in a closer approximation to elite athletes like Barry Sanders, you can reduce pain and stress on the joints.


Anxiety and chronic pain are two conditions that can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health. By understanding the connection between these two conditions, we can alleviate symptoms and improve our overall well-being by addressing the root cause through improving standing, walking, running, and throwing. If you're struggling with anxiety and chronic pain, reach out to a Functional Patterns practitioner near you for in person or virtual sessions. Remember, breaking the cycle of anxiety and chronic pain is possible with the right approach as demonstrated by thousands of people doing Functional Patterns across the world.

Learn more about Functional Patterns and anxiety in the following articles: 


  1. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Anxiety.
  2. Institute for Chronic Pain. (n.d.). Anxiety.
  3. Blyth, F. M., & March, L. M. (2019). The impact of anxiety on chronic musculoskeletal pain and the role of astrocyte activation. Pain, 160(3), 537-539. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001457
Back to blog