Can Pain Cause High Blood Pressure?

If you’ve ever experienced pain before, you know that it can be extreme. Some pain can leave people in agony and even cause their heart to race. If you’ve ever experienced this high level of pain before, you may be wondering, can pain cause high blood pressure? And, that’s what we’ll be discussing for the 20% of adults that have chronic pain and the countless others that have acute pain.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

can pain cause high blood pressure elderly couple sitting on the couch checking bp

If you have high blood pressure, you may not know it until you have your blood pressure tested. However, many symptoms are easily overlooked as something else, but these can be the first signs of high blood pressure.

These signs include:

  • Pounding sensation in three key areas: chest, ears and/or neck.
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion or extreme fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing

In more severe cases, you may notice blood in your urine or even suffer from nosebleeds. However, these are just the lesser-known symptoms and are often the ones that indicate that your blood pressure is much higher than normal.

Mild symptoms are very easy to overlook because they can be attributed to dozens of different issues, and they include:

If these symptoms come and go, they’re easy to overlook because they can be a hot flash, lack of food or water, or they can be caused by dozens of different things. The key is to listen to your body and seek out medical attention if your symptoms do not subside or keep returning.

Now that you know what symptoms to look for if you have high blood pressure, it’s time to look at its causes. One cause that most people overlook is pain.

Can Pain Cause High Blood Pressure?

Yes. All types of pain can cause blood pressure to rise, and if the pain is chronic, blood pressure may stay elevated for long periods of time. In addition, studies show that there is a relationship between pain and blood pressure rising.

However, there isn’t enough research to suggest that pain can lead to hypertension.

The reason that your blood pressure rises, even with sudden or acute pain, is due to your nervous system replying to the pain stimuli. You can test this theory by placing your hand in ice cold water when testing your blood pressure.

For many people, this test will show a slight elevation in blood pressure when you initially put your hand into the ice water.

How High Can Blood Pressure Rise?

Blood pressure can spike in people with chronic pain due to the electrical signals that the brain sends to the sympathetic nervous system. Your nervous system causes a sympathetic discharge, which is known to cause:

  • Heartbeat rates of 100 beats per minute
  • Tachycardia
  • Intermediate hypertension

Adrenal glands also play a role in this because they release adrenaline when experiencing pain. Adrenaline will cause your blood pressure and heart rate to rise.

How Pain Causes High Blood Pressure

can pain cause high blood pressure woman holding her head in pain sitting at her desk

On a deeper, more scientific level, pain is a nervous system response. When you feel pain, the baroreceptor reflex is activated. This reflex is responsible for helping you maintain blood pressure, but when you have pain, it tells your body to begin restricting blood flow.

As your blood flow becomes restricted, blood pressure levels rise.

The rise in blood pressure will continue as the nervous system response is ongoing. However, once the pain subsides, the reflex will relax, blood flow will improve and your blood pressure will begin falling back to normal levels.

Of course, if this happens when you have other risk factors that increase blood pressure, it can push your levels even higher. Some things that can also cause your BP to rise are;

  • Age: The older you are, the higher your risk of hypertension.
  • Diet: A poor diet, one that is high in sodium and sugar, can increase blood pressure.
  • Lifestyle: Your lifestyle choices, such as smoking, lack of sleep or low physical activity raise hypertension risks.

If you take certain medications, have clogged arteries or suffer from another disease, all of these issues can lead to a higher risk of blood pressure elevation.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers and High Blood Pressure

Did you know that 10% of adults have filled a prescription for pain meds in the last 30 days? Countless others will go to the local drug store or supermarket and purchase an OTC pain reliever.

After all, when you’re in pain, you simply want relief.

Unfortunately, these pain relievers can cause high blood pressure, making any blood pressure issues that you may have even worse. 

The American Heart Association states that:

  • 53% of people with high blood pressure discuss taking pain relievers with their doctor
  • Some OTC pain relievers can cause high blood pressure

While some OTC options may not impact blood pressure, such as acetaminophen, others do. People with high blood pressure should avoid taking ketoprofen, ibuprofen and naproxen because these three medications can affect blood pressure.

Ideally, if you have pain and are at-risk of or have high blood pressure, you’ll want to contact your physician before purchasing OTC pain meds.

You can also try natural methods of pain relief, such as topicals that can help relieve your pain, too.

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