Chronic pain and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have a symbiotic relationship, living in close proximity to one another, often within the mind and body of someone suffering from both. Chronic pain is difficult to diagnose, but some symptoms can be managed effectively with proper treatment. PTSD results after a traumatic event, with the sufferer, often left with injuries or conditions tracked back to the trauma. If chronic pain is diagnosed as being injury-related, such as a spinal injury in a soldier who was harmed by an improvised explosive device, then PTSD may have resulted from the pain as an example.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is described as pain with a duration of three months or more. Patients suffering from it can be perplexed as its cause is often hard to identify, but it also may result in other stressors or medical issues. Once physically fit and active, chronic pain could drive you to avoid activities such as lifting weights, high-intensity workouts, everyday house chores, or tasks that are work-related. You may experience psychological and emotional shifts, anxiety, depression, mood swings, lack of appetite or binge eating, and other related problems.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is indiscriminate, affecting everyone from young children to adults. It’s a mental disorder whose triggers include the stuff of nightmares: a traumatic event filled with injury, destruction, death, or extreme violence. Those who suffer from it often survived the worst of the traumatic event, while others didn’t. It’s incurable.
The American Psychiatric Association describes it this way: “Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.”
Causes of Chronic Pain
The cause of chronic pain is indeterminate, meaning there isn’t a single cause where a doctor can prescribe medication or a procedure to cure it. Rather, it’s a condition with multiple causes, some worse than others. Some more treatable than others. Here are possible causes you may want to discuss with a doctor:
- Arthritis and other joint problems.
- Back pain especially caused by lower back problems.
- Muscle sprains and strains may be easier to diagnose and treat, especially if you can recall an incident resulting in the pain.
- Repetitive stress injuries, when the same movement over and over puts strain on a body part.
- Fibromyalgia, a condition that causes muscle pain throughout the body.
- Nerve damage.
- Lyme disease.
- Broken bones, which can often heal normally.
- Acid reflux or ulcers.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Endometriosis, when tissue in the uterus grows outside of it.
Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD is tough to identify. It’s nebulous, especially when it takes place in your brain. It can change everything in your life, from personal relationships to eating and sleep. Here are symptoms to watch for:
- Consciously or not, memories of a traumatic event can be disturbing. The results can be nightmares or flashbacks. This can mimic the sensation of a first-time experience. The result? Anxiousness, fear, guilt, or suspicion.
- Avoidance or purposely trying to not think about what happened. You navigate away from anyone or anything that’s a reminder. It’s better to avoid than engage. You feel detachment or loneliness.
- Behavior Changes with intense emotions and reactions different than what you’d call normal. You may become more aggressive or push yourself to extremes.
- Mood Swings, including feelings of suicide, guilt, shame, negativity, numbness, hopelessness, or bad feelings directed toward others or yourself. You shy away from activities you normally enjoy.
Chronic pain and PTSD can be managed with medical care, therapy, or medication. The key in both is seeking medical attention when needed. Interestingly, both conditions may require therapy to help the patient learn coping techniques and deal with a range of emotions affecting him/her negatively. Certain kinds of care of therapy may apply to both conditions, such as: Physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy to deal with flashbacks, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. A common theme for both is the need for mental health and behavioral counseling, but seeing a licensed professional is the best first option.
Other Steps to Take
From mental and behavioral health therapy to physical exams or surgical procedures, there are many treatment options to consider for chronic pain and PTSD. You and your doctor or therapist will decide on a plan you can handle and are comfortable with, but medication like ketamine may also be a consideration.
Ketamine For Chronic Pain Treatment
An innovative new treatment option, Ketamine is used across the globe as an anesthetic. Research in the last two decades shows that ketamine is also a powerful tool for treating the symptoms of chronic pain conditions and mood disorders. According to recent studies, ketamine can provide relief in up to 70% of patients. If you or a loved one is dealing with PTSD or Chronic Pain we invite you to contact us today to learn more about this innovative new treatment option.