Ankylophobia (Fear of Joint Immobility)
Ankylophobia is the irrational fear of having joint immobility. Someone experiencing this condition may find themselves enduring lengthy bouts of intrusive anxiety that make day to day life quite difficult. They in fact may even realize that their intense fear of joint immobility is irrational and out of touch with reality. However, the intensity of their fear is often too powerful for them to logically coerce their way out of it.
Someone with ankylophobia may make major life decisions due to their irrational fear of joint immobility. For instance, an individual with ankylophobia may be overly protective of themselves and may not engage in much physical activity, if any. If such an occurrence were to take place, then this would essentially be a vain attempt to limit their risk from injuring themselves.
Those suffering with ankylophobia will most likely be concerned with injuring their bones or ligaments as they may be extremely terrified at the thought of them having one of their limbs, especially their joints, be confined in a cast of some sort. Thus, resulting in them being unable to move their joints. Such fears may be analogous to that of feeling claustrophobic.
Someone with ankylophobia may also withhold a deep fear of becoming paralyzed or of being buried alive as well. This would seem plausible when looking at the connection these other fears have as they relate to being unable to fully move one’s joints, such as their knees, elbows, or shoulders for instance.
Symptoms of Ankylophobia
Intense anxiety will be one of the most common symptoms that someone can expect to experience with ankylophobia. The intensity and the duration of their anxiety will depend on many different factors, but will nonetheless be a common symptom.
In fact, in very severe cases, someone experiencing ankylophobia may have a full-blown panic attack where they will need to be hospitalized. Though this may not be the case for everyone with this condition, it is still in the realm of possibility given how anxious they are and how deeply their fear of joint immobility is.
As mentioned before, someone with ankylophobia may make conscious efforts in their day to day life to limit or completely abstain from doing any sort of physical labor or activities where there is the potential to injure themselves. This is of course in connection to their fear of being confined to a hospital bed, cast, or an arm sling for example.
A person with ankylophobia may take precautions that are over the top and out of touch with reality. Such efforts may significantly interfere with their day to day life, as well as their self-esteem. They may also find it difficult to be confined into small places where they are unable to fully move their joints for long periods of time. Such places include driving in a car, being in a plane, being in a large crowd, etc.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of ankylophobia:
Intense anxiety when unable to move joints freely
Anxiety when thinking of having joint immobility
May take strong precautions to preserve joints
Muscle tension, sweating, and shakiness
Prefers open spaces as opposed to confined spaces
Causes of Ankylophobia
There are no known causes of ankylophobia, however genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles. For instance, someone with a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders or phobias may have a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness themselves. If such an occurrence were to be the case, then all that would be required for them to then develop full-blown ankylophobia may be for them to experience some sort of traumatizing experience.
A traumatic experience that could lead someone to develop ankylophobia may be that they were once in a position where they were unable to fully use their joints for a significant period of time. For instance, perhaps they injured themselves in a car accident or from a sporting event. Let’s say they injured their leg and had to wear a cast for several months, unable to bend their knee at all. With their knee joint completely confined to a cast, the immobility of their joint may be an extremely distressing and traumatic experience for them.
As is the case with virtually all mental illnesses, there is no definitive cause of someone developing ankylophobia, but we can still look at certain factors that may shed some light as to what may be plausible and what may be implausible. For instance, if you already suffer from an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), then it may only take a very stressful experience in relation to joint immobility for them to develop ankylophobia.
Ankylophobia Treatments (abridged)
There is no treatment specifically designed for ankylophobia. However there are still many different forms of treatment that are commonly used for people suffering from anxiety disorders such as this. For instance, exposure therapy is a common form of treatment for people suffering from most phobias. Just as the name implies, the goal of this form of therapy is to desensitize the patient from their fear by repetitively exposing them to their fear.
Theoretically, the more someone with ankylophobia is exposed to joint immobility, the more comfortable they will get with it. If you choose to partake in this form of treatment, then it is imperative that you find a therapist who has a lot of experience with treating patients with phobias as this will work to your advantage.
Another effective form of therapy for people suffering with anxiety disorders such as ankylophobia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of treatment can be very advantageous for someone experiencing a deep fear of joint immobility by helping them to become more aware of their thinking errors, as well as learning how to improve them. If possible, it would be best if you could find a CBT therapist who has a lot of experience with treating phobias.
If you think you may have ankylophobia or if you have some of the symptoms described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can get properly diagnosed and treated for your condition. Depending on the severity of your ankylophobia, your doctor may refer you to see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a therapist.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Ankylophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with ankylophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with ankylophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with ankylophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with ankylophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Ankylophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from ankylophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with ankylophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of ankylophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Ankylophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from ankylophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from ankylophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with ankylophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of ankylophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with ankylophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Ankylophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as ankylophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with ankylophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with ankylophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their ankylophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with ankylophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Exercise for Ankylophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including ankylophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of ankylophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of ankylophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with ankylophobia over time.
Yoga for Ankylophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from ankylophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with ankylophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with ankylophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with ankylophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of ankylophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Ankylophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with ankylophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with ankylophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Ankylophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like ankylophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with ankylophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with ankylophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with ankylophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your ankylophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Ankylophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe ankylophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their ankylophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as ankylophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of ankylophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of ankylophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.