By: Janet Bayramyan | Lucid Lane
It is increasingly understood that childhood trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affect not only the quality of life of many individuals but also their physical health. Research has increasingly demonstrated that trauma can lead to neurological, biological, and psychological dysregulation. Exposure to traumatic stress is correlated with increased health concerns, mental health issues, morbidity, and mortality.
The prevalence of trauma is substantially elevated in patients with chronic pain. Trauma exposure is associated with many problems—emotional and physical—that affect health. Emotional pain can amplify physical pain perception, and pain itself can actually serve as a reminder of the traumatic event. Thus individuals with chronic pain that is associated with trauma such as car accidents, or sexual assaults, appear to struggle in working through reprocessing the traumatic memory due to the physical reminders.
Risk factors for chronic pain and PTSD include family history of PTSD, childhood adversity, pain sensitivity, fear of pain, anxiety sensitivity, pre-existing health conditions, previous injury, symptoms of dissociation, and genetic conditions.
Factors that make chronic pain and PTSD worse include isolation, disability, avoidance, catastrophizing, inability to differentiate between PTSD symptoms and other physical symptoms, change in pain sensitivity, and low immune response.
Research suggests that providing cognitive behavioral treatments to address PTSD symptoms in patients with chronic pain may lead to improvements in pain-related functioning. Other useful treatment methods include behavioral regulation methods, and physiological strategies (relaxation-response training; movement therapy) that overlap substantially with many aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy used in the treatment of chronic pain. Evidence-based treatment models include Seeking Safety, EMDR therapy, Brainspotting, and Mindfulness based cognitive behavioral therapy. If you’re struggling with PTSD or any other trauma-related condition, we recommend that you look into evidence-based treatment models as your primary form of care.
Find Janet and Lucid Lane at https://www.lucidlane.com/
Lucid Lane is dedicated to empowering people with pain and substance use to live healthier and happier lives.
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