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A Look at the Connection Between PTSD and Chronic Pain

Shopify API November 08, 2022 No Comments
Chronic pain and PTSD are two conditions that often go hand in hand. And it can lead to a cycle of pain and suffering that is tough to break. Click to learn more.
a person with PTSD staring out into the empty ocean
November 2022. This article is independently written by Shelby Golding. All opinions given are hers. Shelby has been certified as a personal trainer and nutritional specialist since 2007. In 2008, she found her passion for writing about these topics and hasn't looked back.
a person with PTSD staring out into the empty ocean

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur after a person has been through a traumatically stressful event. PTSD symptoms can include intrusive memories of the event, flashbacks, nightmares, sleep problems, irritability, and being easily startled. For some people, PTSD can also lead to depression and anxiety.

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks, and it can be caused by a wide variety of conditions like injuries, arthritis, headaches, and fibromyalgia. Chronic pain can also result from PTSD, and up to 60% of people with PTSD also suffer from chronic pain.

Chronic pain is a reality for many people living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research has shown a strong connection between the two conditions. And while it's important to talk to a doctor about any chronic pain that you may be experiencing, understanding the link between PTSD and chronic pain can help you better manage your symptoms. So please keep reading to learn more about the relationship between these two conditions.

What Causes PTSD?

Any traumatically stressful event can cause PTSD. This could include events such as:

  • Combat
  • A car accident
  • A natural disaster
  • A sexual assault
  • A physical assault

For many people who go through these types of events, the memories and feelings associated with the event can be so overwhelming that they can lead to PTSD. However, it's important to note that many people who experience or witness a traumatic event do not develop PTSD. However, some people are more likely to develop PTSD than others. Factors that can increase your risk of developing PTSD include:

  • Having a history of mental illness
  • Having a history of trauma
  • Being female
  • Being younger
  • Having a lack of social support

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people may only experience a few symptoms, while others may experience many. The most common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Intrusive memories of the event
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Being easily startled
  • Avoiding things that remind you of the event

For some people, PTSD can also lead to depression and anxiety.

PTSD, Chronic Pain & The Mind-Body Connection

PTSD, Chronic Pain & The Mind-Body Connection

There is a strong connection between the mind and the body. This connection is known as the mind-body connection. The mind-body connection explains how our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can affect our physical health and how our physical health can affect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This mind-body connection is essential to understand because it shows how PTSD can lead to chronic pain —and vice versa.

People with PTSD are more likely to experience chronic pain than those without PTSD. For example, up to 61% of women with PTSD also suffer from chronic pelvic pain. In addition, it has also been discovered that 54% of Vietnam veterans with PTSD also suffer from chronic back pain.

The link between PTSD and chronic pain is thought to be due to the mind-body connection. When someone experiences trauma, their body goes into fight-or-flight mode. This reaction is meant to protect the person from danger. However, when someone undergoes trauma repeatedly — as is often the case with PTSD — the fight-or-flight response can become chronically activated. This chronic activation can lead to changes in the nervous system, leading to chronic pain.

How Does PTSD Cause Chronic Pain?

There are a few different ways that PTSD can cause chronic pain. One way is through the development of other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. These conditions can lead to physical symptoms, such as muscle tension and headaches.

Another way PTSD can cause chronic pain is by re-experiencing the traumatic event. This can happen through intrusive memories, flashbacks, and nightmares. These experiences can be so intense that they can cause physical pain.

Finally, PTSD can lead to chronic pain by causing changes in how the nervous system functions. This can lead to a condition called "central sensitization," which is when the nervous system becomes more sensitive to pain.

Central sensitization can cause a person to feel pain even when there is no physical reason for it. And it happens because the nervous system is constantly on high alert, leading to muscle tension and headaches.

PTSD and chronic pain can also feed off each other. For example, someone with PTSD may avoid activities and places that remind them of their trauma. This avoidance can lead to physical deconditioning, which can make the pain worse. Or someone with chronic pain may be more likely to develop PTSD if they experience a traumatic event because chronic pain can make it harder to cope with additional stress.

Treating Chronic Pain & PTSD

There are several treatment options available for both chronic pain and PTSD. Some common treatments for chronic pain include exercise, physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage therapy. Some common treatments for PTSD include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and medication (such as antidepressants). Often, a combination of these treatments is most effective.

If you are suffering from chronic pain and PTSD, seeking treatment for both conditions is vital. Untreated chronic pain can make it difficult to sleep, which can then worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression — both of which are common in people with untreated PTSD. Conversely, untreated PTSD can make it challenging to manage chronic pain effectively. Treating them simultaneously, therefore, is essential to managing both conditions effectively.

Educate Yourself on The Connection Between PTSD & Chronic Pain

PTSD and chronic pain are both highly complex conditions that can be difficult to treat. However, we are beginning to understand the connection between the two disorders and how they might interact, thanks to recent research. And now that you know more about them, you can seek treatment options to alleviate your symptoms.

And if you’re currently experiencing chronic pain, remember to use your Kailo Pain Patch to support you through each day. The Kailo patch is designed to relieve your pain within seconds without any oral medication. And scientists theorize that it works by interfering with the body’s electrical system. In a recent clinical study, the results showed that 99% of patients felt pain relief within 10 minutes of using the Kailo pain patch.

Disclaimer: Kailo should not be used if you have a pacemaker or if you are pregnant. Always consult your doctor or health care professional before using Kailo.


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