Anxiety - Wide-Ranging Health Effects

Humans appear to be hard-wired for modest levels of anxiety as a fear-arousal warning mechanism. Anxiety may be characterized as uneasiness, fear, worry, and apprehension. Anxiety is a common psychological state in which the basic message is "get away from this situation". The state is usually accompanied by numerous physiologic components including surges of the hormone adrenaline, increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure, and increased blood flow to the major muscle groups as the body prepares for "fight or flight".

These are all normal responses to environmental threats. The overall process is orchestrated by the amygdala and hippocampus, two regions of the brain's limbic system which process memory, emotional response, and spatial navigation. But for many people, if anxiety states become frequent and prolonged by various developmental circumstances in childhood and their teenage years, they may begin to respond to perceived rather than real threats. The anxiety state may persist and even become the default condition for the individual.

Those with chronic anxiety may experience chronic back pain,1,2 chronic muscular tension, fibromyalgia,3 headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations. Chronic anxiety may cause a person to anticipate the worst, to have ongoing feelings of dread, to be constantly irritable and tense, and to experience panic attacks. Eventually the person may become worn out from the constant drain on their inner resources and a likely outcome is depression. The person simply cannot take any more stress.

Chronic anxiety has a specific impact on the musculoskeletal system. Persistently elevated levels of adrenaline create ongoing tension in the postural muscles of the lower back and the weight-bearing, antigravity gluteal muscles, pelvic musculature, and hamstrings. The long-term results may include chronic lower back pain, inflammation of the sciatic nerve, and lumbar disc disease. Of course, any of these health problems create more anxiety for the person, establishing a vicious circle of anxiety, pain, more anxiety, and more pain.

Solutions for chronic anxiety usually require multidisciplinary holsitic approaches. Nutrition, for example, is a key factor in restoring a person's homeostatic mechanisms. Significantly reducing one's intake of simple carbohydrates - soda, muffins, cookies, cake, fast food, and even juice - will often have a substantial impact. Making sure to have five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day will also provide great benefit.

Chiropractic care can frequently provide considerable assistance to those with chronic anxiety. By normalizing activity within the musculoskeletal system and reducing muscular stress and tension, chiropractic care helps eliminate an unnecessary source of biochemical and physiologic stress.

1Newcomer KL, et al: Anxiety levels, fear-avoidance beliefs, and disability levels at baseline and at 1 year among subjects with acute and chronic low back pain. Phys Med Rehabil 2(6):514-520, 2010
2Hurley DA, et al: Physiotherapy for sleep disturbance in chronic low back pain: a feasibility randomised controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disord 11:70, 2010 [11 pages]
3Silverman S, et al: Toward characterization and definition of fibromyalgia severity. BMC Musculoskeletal Disord 11:66, 2010 [9 pages]

Exclusive Offer

New Patients Receive a Free Consultation

Office Hours

Monday - Thursday:

8:00 am - 7:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am - 3:00 pm

Saturday, Sunday:

Closed

Location

Testimonials

  • "My visit was beyond perfect! They really listen and take into consideration every aspect of your physical well being. Being a competitive powerlifter, their ability to relate to my injuries and discomforts was absolutely amazing. Will be a patient of theirs for a very long time!!"
    Z. Taylor
  • "Absolute best chiropractor in Lexington. Very knowledgeable and cares about his patients."
    A. Thomspon
  • "Dr. Arena has excellent clinical skills, both in the diagnosis of as well as the treatment for various musculoskeletal conditions. As a physician with 37 years of experience and as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, I heartily endorse his practice."
    B. Greiser
  • "I feel like last night was the first time in a long time I didn't wake up at all! Not switching positions 12 times to get comfortable. THANK YOU"
    E. Wilson
  • "These guys truly know what they are doing. They have a passion for their work. You should especially go to this place if you are a serious weightlifter!!"
    G. Falcone
  • "Dr. Arena took the time to help educate me every step of the way and it made me feel very comfortable. I definitely recommend him to any person with minor or major issues."
    K. Knight

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP