Physical knot in stomach from anxiety? - Anxiety Support

Anxiety Support

48,926 members47,958 posts

Physical knot in stomach from anxiety?

MommaTom4 profile image

I KNOW I struggle wth anxiety and just began buspar for it yesterday, but it seems like when my anxiety is at it's worst, like it has been for the last week where I feel in an almost constant state of panic, I feel a physical knot in my stomach. Like I know people talk about their stomach being in knots, but when I feel that way, I can actually feel a knot right where the tension is. I know my breathing is shallow, and I can tell I'm holding abdominal muscles in with tension and anxiety, so it feels like it's anxiety or panic, but it's almost like the muscles have truly made a knot there. When I push on it, I feel butterfly sensation much more intensely. The last time this kind of anxiety happened I was sure it was a physical thing wrong and went to the ER, had bloodwork, CT scan, abdominal X-ray and abdominal ultrasound done, as well as a follow up with the GI and an endoscopy. ALL tests were clear and normal. Within 2 weeks of it all beginning, it finally subsided and I assumed it was anxiety all along. Had a short reoccurrence right after Christmas which was 2 months later and it lasted for 5 days. Here I am again with the knot for a week now and it makes me feel physically sick to my stomach though I never vomit. I wake up each morning with super fast racing heart and shallow breathing where I can't get a deep enough breath and it's a panic attack for about 10 minutes and then it calms. But the physical knot and anxious stomach feeling never goes away during the day.

Just curious if anyone else can physically feel the knot of tension or if I'm just weird. I'm very thin, so there is no fat to hide muscles on me.

23 Replies

I had stomach issues as well and mine come and go! I am going to a GI doctor in 2 weeks for a check up but I had a vaginal ultrasound, complete blood work, and an abdominal pelvic ultrasound all normal. My issue is my digestion is all messed up! food in my poop all the time! Not to be gross. My doctor thinks it is anxiety but that is why I am going to a GI doctor.

MommaTom4 profile image
MommaTom4 in reply to Betha

I know I get constipated when I am anxious as well. It's like I knot the muscles up so much digestion isn't able to happen easily. I just found it weird that I can physically FEEL where the tension is. It's a knitted area in my stomach-right below the rib cage and a few inches above the belly button. It's just like it's a big brick of muscles not relaxing to let food go down normally so I feel sick when I do eat.

Anxiety has always affected my diet, and I eat way less when I'm anxious. Kind of like the nerves on a first date and you just can't eat in front of them simply because you're so nervous. When I hit a bad spell of anxiety like right now, my appetite locks up. I feel hungry, but when I start to eat I feel sick because it just doesn't have the room to go down. The muscles are all tightly constructed and it knots up. Anxiety is a beast.

Betha profile image
Betha in reply to MommaTom4

My stomach feels hungry a lot even when I am not hungry. Like yesterday I ate dinner good dinner and then it felt like my stomach was growling. My first GI appointment they said will be a consultation so I will be able to ask questions

My abdominal muscles can get really tense and you can feel actual knots. The worse one occurs under my right rib cage. It took a couple of months for that pain to subside.

Agora1 profile image
Agora1 in reply to Ty2020

Ty2020, I had that at one time before anxiety was even diagnosed.

It was "spastic colon" from nervousness. It looked like an alien was

moving inside my abdominal muscles..It did go away as well.

MommaTom4 profile image
MommaTom4 in reply to Ty2020

Thank you. It feels like heartburn, but at times feels like a rock is just sitting in my stomach stretching it out and not letting the food go down. It has been a week now. The last episode was 2 1/2 weeks. I started buspar for anxiety yesterday. I know it won't be instant, but I'm hoping it will take the edge off the anxiety so I can avoid this crazy stomach stuff. Because when there's physical stuff going on my mind goes crazy and tells me something is wrong which triggers the anxiety, which triggers the stomach...and on and on and on in a cycle. I've been avoiding meds for a while, but I'm ready to stop the cycle of anxiety and if it takes meds, that's what I'll do.

Hi sorry to hear you are having knotted stomachs problems.I to suffer from this when I get anxious feels like my stomach muscles are all tight and knotted and I don't feel hungry I take a diazepam 2 mg for a couple of days and this puts it right.its tension in the stomachs muscles caused by stress and anxiety I've hundreds of times over the years .trust me it does get better try not to worry .and hope buspar helps you to relax.

Thank you. I have taken xanax, but even half a pill makes me very sleepy and I have 4 kids so I can't do that. But since this has been going on for a week...I may have to do it. Did you only take 1 a day or more than one a day?

Gcstilo profile image
Gcstilo in reply to Ty2020

Omg I’m so happy to have read this comment. I recently noticed a bump in my lower right rib and I went online to see what it could be. All the results I was getting made me even more stressed out. I read about liver issues and even cancer. Tomorrow I’ll be getting a blood test done to make sure everything is okay. I have been suffering from anxiety for some time now and I’m hoping the bump is nothing serious. I’m so glad to see someone has had the same issue as me. I feel a bit relieved now knowing there’s a possibility it’s just my anxiety and nothing life threatening.

Hi. Just curious how you’re doing now or what helped? I’m experiencing your exact symptoms. Thank you

Hi! I’m doing well. I have learned that my knot is definitely anxiety related. I have to work really hard at relaxing my abdominal muscles when I’m worked up over something or it can get out of whack and takes a lot of time to undo the knot. I do take Prilosec while I’m dealing with it because stress causes acid reflux issues as well.

I found deep breathing with a heating pad on my abdomen is really helpful as is yoga stretching and meditation. YouTube has LOTS of great suggestions for both. Those things help me loosen up and relax more and eventually the knot subsides. By managing stress and anxiety I can keep the knot at bay more often than not.

Hope that helps you and anyone else who is struggling. So rarely do we get updates on these I was glad to see your question so I could follow up!

Thank you so much for your reply! I’m happy to hear you’re able to manage things better now. So when you would feel a knot - was it always in the same spot or could you feel them in different areas? I’m just so paranoid which is really heightening my anxiety - not helping matters. I’m also experiencing a burning/hunger feeling quite often. And like you, i have a very tight tummy (most always locked up - especially when anxious). Just curious what exactly your symptoms were. Thanks so much!

Sounds exactly like mine. The main spot where I felt the hunger/burning pain was where I could feel the knot. I also am thin, so I can feel an organ when I lay down flat on my right side...think it’s my kidney, that always scares me...but it’s been there forever and i have had ct scans for other issues that would have shown anything sinister.

The knot was definitely related to the anxiety and the burning hunger feelings were as well. I would feel nauseous if I tried to eat but my stomach was constantly feeling that tight hunger type feeling. I finally had to force myself to eat at regular scheduled times regardless of how I felt. I was truly hungry and the anxiety while I ate just caused the burning afterwards which the Prilosec helped with.

It’s miserable when you think your body is like a ticking time bomb for some awful disease...and then the worrying makes new symptoms all the time which make you think “is this it? The big bad one?” Medicine and counseling saved my life. I was so tired of worrying about everything. I hope you find what works for you! I don’t wish anxiety on my worst enemy!

Oh my goodness. I was reading your reply through tears! Honestly. Like you, I do not wish anxiety on anyone and I’m so sorry you had to deal with this, but it brings me so much relief knowing that I’m not alone. Yes! I will feel the tightening/burning feeling and when I touch in that area, there is a knot that goes away. It seems to happen more often when I’m upright and moving about (I have a hard time relaxing my tummy when I’m not sitting). I also have the nausea which at times can make it very hard to eat - it takes everything I have to eat. But I’ve already lost weight with this process (again, like you, I am very thin) and I just can’t afford to lose anymore. My doctor diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder and prescribed me Paxil and also strongly suggested counseling (which I’m in the process of setting up). I honestly cannot thank you enough for replying to my comment... you’re the real first feeling of “calm” I’ve had in a while. Thank you. Also... I have four kiddos too!😉

Yes it sounds so much like me. I still have trouble from time to time but now that I KNOW it’s anxiety it’s easier to call the fear a lie and move past it faster. Peppermint helps a lot for the nausea, so I bought a bag of the starlight red and white mints and they do help a lot.

It does pass...but I know each day you wake up and wonder “is it still here?” And the anxiety builds again. It takes time to talk back to the anxiety and calm down again. Mine Seems to come out of nowhere when I’ve had a lot of big events going on that I didn’t realize were building stress and tension slowly.

Not sure why I’m just seeing your reply?? anyway. You’re so right... I just keep saying “I just want it to go away and I want to feel like myself again!” I started Paxil yesterday and of course it’s making me terribly nauseous. Aye. It’s so hard to eat right now but my stomach feels even worse when empty - a vicious cycle. I have a therapy appt. scheduled for Monday. I’m really hoping this helps me shift the way my brain processes situations. I cannot thank you enough for commenting back to me - as you know, when anxiety is at its worst it’s hard to find any relief. I just cannot get over how similar our symptoms are/were... to me, they’re quite bizarre (the knots, burning tummy & nausea)!🤦🏼‍♀️ Just terrible. I’ll be getting some peppermints! Thanks again for everything!

You’re so welcome! I know how helpful a little bit of reassurance is from someone who really knows about it. Yes the nausea from starting a med is rough. Mine lasted about a week, week 2, was better, and by week 3 it was kicking in and i felt so much better. Therapy is also helpful so I’m glad you got that going. Hoping your appointment goes really well and you find more and more hope and peace each day!

Thank you! My appointment went well, thank goodness! I’m looking forward to getting things back on track. One last question for you if you don’t mind... how long did/does it take for you to kick the knots/burning tummy once it starts? I feel each day gets a bit better but I’m not totally there yet. Does it take a while? Thanks for your help!😊

My first episode I remember going through all the testing sure there was something wrong. But all the tests were clear and finally after about 3-4 weeks, it subsided. Episodes after that we’re 2-3 weeks, then 2 weeks, then about 5 days. Most times I can manage it within 2-3 days now

Wow! That’s great! 2-3 days is so much better than any amount of weeks! That’s so good to hear! I’m also delving into mindfulness... I’ve found asking myself “what” is it I’m feeling vs “why” am I feeling this really helps offset the symptoms. I’m sure I’ll reach out to you again at some point but I really do appreciate your advice and understanding!

Anytime. Again...just having someone who gets it and doesn’t just tell you it’s all In your head is helpful. Mindfulness and meditation were really good for me. I just needed to slow down the racing thoughts and stay present in order to truly release the knots and that takes practice and being aware of your body and it’s responses.

Racecar17 profile image
Racecar17 in reply to MommaTom4

Hey, are you still on here by any chance? Would love to ask you a question, I’ve been struggling for months with the same pain symptoms.

Omg I thought I was alone.. it started with what seemed like spasms going from my stomach to my chest. Now every morning I wake up and I have a tightness in my upper stomach. I’ve had all the tests done too and nothing. Even though I know where the anxiety build up has come from ( multiple life events) my anxiety scares me to think something is really wrong with my body. My doctors also think it’s my anxiety. Does anyone get it where it radiates to your chest and you feel like an elephant is sitting on your chest? I just want to feel normal again ( although this condition has taught me a lot about life and letting the little things go).., I would love to keep in contact with others for support..

You may also like...