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The Link Between PTSD & Chronic Pain

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If you or anyone you love is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, you are not alone. Contact the PTSD Hotline at 866.903.3787 to find help. It is estimated that about 12 million people in the United States live with post-traumatic stress disorder – or PTSD. A mental health issue, people typically develop PTSD after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. These life-threatening or life-changing events can include combat, natural disasters, sexual assault, or vehicular accidents. About 50 percent of Americans have or will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime, with about 1 out of 10 men and 2 out of 10 women developing PTSD. And PTSD can impact all of us at any age.

The Symptoms of PTSD

After experiencing a shocking or harrowing incident, it is typical in the following days or weeks to have stressful reactions to the event; this is known as trauma. It may be difficult initially to return to your daily life and spend time with others, but the hope is that you will begin to feel better after a few weeks or months. With PSTD, these trauma symptoms could start later or even come and go, even months or years later. If these symptoms last longer than four weeks, progressively elevate your stress, or disrupt your daily life, this could be a sign of PTSD. While everyone experiences PTSD differently, it is generally considered that there are four PTSD symptoms:
  1. Intrusive Memories – You can feel like you are re-experiencing the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks. Sights, sounds, or smells may trigger these flashbacks, which can feel real and nerve-wracking.
  2. Avoidance – You may go out of your way to avoid things that may remind you of the traumatic event. This can include avoiding certain situations or people, refusing to talk about the incident, staying busy or finding distractions to avoid thinking about the event or getting help.
  3. Negative Changes in Mood & Thinking – You may notice that you have more negative thoughts and feelings than you did before the traumatic event. This can include feeling numbness, lost interest in activities you loved, guilt or shame about the incident.
  4. Changes in Emotional & Physical Reactions – You feel on edge, keyed up, jittery, or are always on alert for danger. This can include insomnia, trouble concentrating, mood swings, increased stress from loud noises, or developing unhealthy habits such as smoking or abusing drugs and alcohol.
The only way to know if you have PTSD is to speak with your doctor or a mental health provider. It is common for PTSD to be linked to other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide ideation. The most important thing to remember is that it is never too late to get help. And those that been through combat or sexual assault, were injured during the event, or live with chronic pain are more at risk for developing PTSD.

Chronic Pain & PTSD

About 1 out of every 3 Americans will experience chronic pain. Chronic pain can be caused by natural aging in the body, cancer or other illnesses, or injury. Everyone experiences their pain differently, with some unable to walk, stand, sit, lift, or work. Most telling is that it is estimated that 15 to 35 percent of people with chronic pain have also been diagnosed with PTSD. One study found that 51 percent of people with chronic lower back pain also exhibited PTSD symptoms. Anyone living in constant pain for months or years will have their life and mental health impacted. The lack of control, answers, and ability to do everyday activities can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation. And if your chronic pain results from injury from a traumatic event or is a reminder of that incident, it can instigate and increase PTSD symptoms. It’s also possible to not fully realize that there is a connection between your chronic pain and a traumatic event.

How Can Responsible Pain Management Help in Treating PTSD?

Responsible pain management strategies play a crucial role in effectively treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). By focusing on responsible approaches to pain relief, healthcare professionals can minimize the risk of addiction and other adverse effects commonly associated with opioid medications. By implementing alternative therapies and comprehensive treatment plans, responsible pain management helps individuals with PTSD regain control over their lives and foster their overall well-being.

Find Pain Relief at Family Integrative Medicine

At Family Integrative Medicine, our team is dedicated to identifying the root cause of your chronic pain in order to create a personalized treatment plan to effectively care for your symptoms so you can find relief. By understanding your lifestyle, stressors, behaviors, and health condition, we build an effective, comprehensive plan that includes lifestyle changes, physical activity education, food therapy, and medical services. Additionally, as a Veterans Affairs (VA) Community Care Network provider, our experienced team is honored to serve and treat our veterans for a number of conditions, including:
  • PTSD
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Hip Pain
  • Foot Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Migraines
  • Neuropathy
  • Functional Weakness
  • Painful Arthritis
Our knowledgeable medical team may consider treatments such as regenerative medicine or Responsible Pain Management™ (RPM) to boost your body’s ability to heal. Our overall goal is to improve your quality of life, bring your body back into balance and harmony, and meet all your health care needs so you can get back to living the life your love. Schedule your consultation today!

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