PTSD and Chronic Pain – More Similarities?

16 Mar

The more that I research, the more that I find that there might actually be strong correlations between chronic pain and PTSD. This of course makes sense if your chronic pain is caused by the same thing at the root of your PTSD. This is exactly what the article below looks at. I am a strong believer in the correlation and that one condition can be overlooked because of the other. However, I wonder what if the two were mutually exclusive? For example, I have a history that caused my PTSD but might not be directly linked to my current chronic pain. Does the article below still apply? I leave that to you to decide (or until I find the research!)!

PTSD and Chronic Pain

By: Cynthia Townsend, PhD

Relationship Between Chronic Pain and PTSD

While chronic pain and PTSD are conditions that may occur together, their relationship to one another is not always obvious and is often overlooked. PTSD can be overlooked because the health care provider, the patient and the family may be focusing on the pain disorder. At times, the patient’s level of disability may be attributed solely to pain. Because there is such a close relationship between PTSD and chronic pain, they have been referred to as “mutually maintaining” conditions.9,10 This is because the presence of both PTSD and chronic pain can increase the symptom severity of either condition.11 

For example, people with chronic pain may avoid activity because they fear the pain – avoiding activity can lead to physical de-conditioning and greater disability and pain over time. Similarly, people with PTSD may avoid reminders of the trauma. This avoidance of activity can lead to the continuation of PTSD symptoms while also contributing to greater physical disability. People with chronic pain may also focus their attention toward their pain while individuals with PTSD may unknowingly focus on things that remind them of the trauma. Consequently, people with both PTSD and chronic pain may have less time and energy to focus on more adaptive ways of coping with both their pain and fear. Furthermore, people with PTSD often experience symptoms of arousal and tension, which may decrease their tolerance for handling pain and increase their perception of pain.



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2 responses to “PTSD and Chronic Pain – More Similarities?

  1. unusual

    April 15, 2011 at 19:18

    couldn’t have said it better! Well done.. take care


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