When we look at the body as one complete system, it makes sense that stress could wind up influencing joint pain. After all, we know that elevated cortisol levels are associated with more pain. As physician and New York Times bestselling author Lissa Rankin, M.D., previously wrote for mbg, chronic stress depletes your adrenal glands. This “raises prolactin levels, increasing the body’s sensitivity to pain1, such as backaches and muscle aches,” she notes.
Additionally, founder of Parsley Health Robin Berzin, M.D., previously wrote for mbg that stress is the opposite of helpful for your immune system, which is responsible for regulating a healthy inflammatory response in the body. “Stress is the ultimate immune-modulator,” she writes, and inflammation is often what we’re feeling when our joints start to ache.
And speaking of inflammation, we already know that stress has a negative impact on gut health. You guessed it—poor gut health is also associated with increased inflammation and more joint pain.
In short: Stress can lead to inflammation, poor gut health, chronically elevated cortisol, and more, which will all impact joint pain.