Anxiety can often cause the victim to feel various pains that can occur in and across the chest area. It’s important to note that these pains can alter in the way they present.
The types of pains include sensations of stabbing, cramping, aches (dull to severe), shooting pains and pain that’s dependant on position of the body or the current state of breathing.
Unfortunately the pains are often mistaken for something worse than what they actually are and because they can vary in terms of the type of pain, the location on the chest and the time of day they can strike, they can often cause the anxiety victim to assume the worst about them.
For example: a stabbing pain across the chest is assumed to be a heart attack, an ache is automatically acute angina and chest pressure suddenly becomes a lung problem. Chest pains often act as the trigger for setting off panic attacks too – particularly when they occur alongside a heart palpitation (although they are usually mutually exclusive).
There are several reasons why chest pains occur as a result of an anxiety problem. The first and primarily the most common reason is muscle tension. Anxiety and adrenaline cause our muscles to tense up – even when we think we’re not tense – and a lot of the tension centres on certain points of the body. These areas are mainly the chest, back, shoulders and abdomen.
When we’re carrying around a lot of adrenaline our muscles tense up to provide an outlet for all of it. Our core upper torso muscles seem to ‘scrunch up’ like a sponge acting as the bodies way of dealing with the adrenaline and as a result causes all sorts of muscles to be expanded and contracted almost entirely against our will. Throughout the day our muscles can do this; they can happen throughout daily life such as work, chores and social occasions.
This muscle process is debatably harmless in the long term, however in the short term all the scrunching, tensing and contracting will cause all sorts of pain that can differ from muscle to muscle. Good posture and muscle stretching is the key to alleviating the pain that tension causes as well as taking any focus away from the pain being something irrational (a sign of something serious and unlikely).
Chest pains are also commonly linked with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, indigestion and excess stomach gases. Our digestion cycle can be affected by anxiety due to our body focusing on dealing with the adrenaline and other bodily chemicals that are released during periods of high anxiety.
The stomach can often produce excessive acid and gases which push up against the chest causing pressure against the sternum and muscles. An observation of the digestive cycle is usually required to identify this as the cause, as well as noting what you’ve eaten prior to chest pains occurring.