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Chronic back or neck pain can be the result of a variety of causes, many of them physical in nature. Between degenerative diseases that can wear down the protective lining of the bones and muscle strains that can occur during heavy labor, there's no shortage of ways your spinal cord can become impaired. However, you might be surprised to learn that certain psychological conditions can lead to frequent pains in your back or neck as well.

In particular, anxiety disorders can take a toll on both your mind and body, leaving you with seemingly unexplainable discomfort in the muscles, joints and discs located in your back and neck. While speaking with a mental health professional can help you get to the bottom of your anxiety, you may want to consider different options. Products such as spinal decompression belts or TENS machines can provide gentle and soothing relief for your physical discomfort.
As for your psychological state, here is some background information on the effects of anxiety disorders.

Hamstring Stretches

OAccording to WebMD, hamstring stretches are specifically designed to target the joints and muscles in the upper leg and lower back. You can take advantage of this exercise by lying flat on your back and bending one knee to start. Next, place a towel under the arch of your raised foot and use it to pull your leg straight up toward the ceiling with your hands. Holding this position for between 15 and 30 seconds, you should feel a gentle pull in your hamstring and lower back. Finally, lower your foot and repeat two to four times for each leg.

Introduction to anxiety disorders and chronic pain

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that anxiety disorders can lead to a variety of physical issues, ranging from widespread soreness to headaches, muscle tension and joint problems. While it's possible that a condition like fibromyalgia or arthritis may be contributing to pain in individuals struggling with anxiety, in certain cases, there may be no bodily reason why pain occurs.
One of the most common forms of anxiety, especially where phantom pains are concerned, is generalized anxiety disorder. Not only can the stress of this mental health condition lead to back pain, but it can also make people more prone to infections or diseases that can take a toll on their physical health.
The National Institute of Mental Health notes that unlike momentary episodes of anxiety,generalized anxiety disorder is a persistent condition that can last for many years. While individuals living with this mental abnormality may have legitimate reasons to be concerned about affairs in their lives, more often than not, their fears are unjustified.
Generalized anxiety disorder often begins gradually, with occasional moments of intense worry or panic that evolve over the years to become a more constant state of concern. In its advanced stages, anxiety disorder can stop people from functioning in their everyday lives, whether it's going to work, completing school assignments or interacting with friends and family members.

Symptoms and complications of generalized anxiety disorder

The Mayo Clinic reports that generalized anxiety disorder can bring about a variety of different symptoms, which patients may experience with varying degrees of consistency and intensity. Common signs of the condition include frequent fatigue, insomnia, nausea, agitation, quickened heart rate, sweating, memory problems, lack of concentration, frequent irritation, respiratory issues, muscle pains and fixation on personal fears.
Generalized anxiety disorder can come and go at various times, often without warning. While fears may be specific to a certain issue or concern, they can be general in nature as well. People struggling with this condition may also exhibit behavioral changes such as lacking self-esteem, attempting to achieve perfection in various pursuits or constantly seeking approval from others.
Medical and mental health professionals are not sure about the exact causes of generalized anxiety disorder. However, they suspect that numerous factors likely play a role, ranging from heredity to abnormalities in brain chemistry - especially involving the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin.
There are also certain elements that can make individuals more likely to develop anxiety disorders, which often begin to take root in childhood or adolescence. Risk factors include personality types prone to anxious behavior, genetic predisposition, frequent stress, diagnosis of a serious disease, past traumatic events and substance abuse and dependence. Women are also more likely to live with significant anxiety disorders than men.

Statistics on anxiety disorders in the U.S.

The ADAA notes that anxiety disorders are the most prevalent form of mental health issues in America. Of adults in the U.S. ages 18 and up, approximately 40 million people - about 18 percent of the general population - have been diagnosed with some type of serious anxiety.
The U.S. healthcare system spends about $42 billion annually providing treatment for generalized anxiety disorder. Furthermore, nearly half of this amount is dedicated to providing treatment for people who have already sought help for anxiety disorders in the past.
Other types of related anxiety illnesses include obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. While anxiety is a condition that can be successfully treated, only about 33 percent of people living with the condition seek professional treatment.
By working with a therapist or mental health professional, people living with intense anxiety, stress or related conditions can be on their way toward a happier and healthier lifestyle.

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