Emotional Stress and Its Relationship to Muscular Pain

Emotional Stress and Its Relationship to Muscular Pain

Published: April 12, 2010 Last Updated: January 21, 2024

An understanding of how the mind affects the body, and vice-versa, requires a combined knowledge of Psychology (the mind), of Neurology (the nervous system) and of Immunology (the body’s natural defences).

The Mind-Body Link

Emotional stress and its relationship to muscular pain

Mind-body pathways

There are two main types of mind-body pathways:

  1. 1. AFFERENT - These pathways take signals FROM the muscles and glands TO the brain and spinal cord. Chemical signals from all over the body are sent to the brain in order to regulate the hormone production signals in the brain.
  2. 2. EFFERENT - These pathways take signals FROM the brain and spinal cord TO the body’s organs, muscles and glands, strengthening the immune structures of the body.


Hormones are chemical substances produced by various endocrine glands and released into the bloodstream to affect actions in other parts of the body. Among other things, the HORMONAL SYSTEM of the body is under the control of mental and external stimuli which interact and operate on the HYPOTHALAMUS. The hypothalamus is the main point in the brain where the nerve and hormonal systems of the body interact. The hypothalamus controls the PITUITARY GLAND, the central gland which releases a range of hormones which in turn stimulate the action of the other endocrine glands. Electrical brain action, including that caused by mental stimuli from THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS, cause the pituitary gland to send it chemical messages to the rest of the system, which may result in the release of hormones, for example, adrenaline, into the blood stream. In this way, all hormones are associated with changes in the state of the emotions and conversely, emotions change the levels of hormones in the body.

The nervous system thus has control over nearly all the body’s defence systems so every thought, emotion or belief can either enhance or inhibit the immune system by triggering different chemical reactions.

For example, there is ever increasing evidence to show that stress can have profound effects on the efferent pathways, negatively altering the immune system. Stress, both physical and emotional, has been linked with auto-immune and rheumatic diseases.

It is important then to realise that treatment and removal of muscular tension and pain will have a dramatic effect on the chemistry of the body, which will filter through to a person’s emotional wellbeing. Massage and Acupuncture are all extremely effective in removing muscular tension and henceforth improving neurological and immune system function. For more information ask one of our practitioners.

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