How PTSD Can Increase Pain Sensitivity

How PTSD Can Increase Pain Sensitivity

Traumatic events are uncontrollable and nearly impossible to predict. Therefore, when people endure the throes of a life-altering event, they are likely to suffer mental and/or physical hardships as a result. These events can include combat situations, natural disasters, loss, death, abandonment, physical/sexual abuse, violence and car accidents. Get help today if you struggle with a traumatic experience and feel increased pain as a result.

How PTSD Increases Pain

The most common side effects of posttraumatic stress disorder include flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, loss of interests, detachment from others, insomnia and hyper-vigilance. In addition to these side effects, people with PTSD often battle physical pain that they cannot explain. PTSD can increase the pain someone feels in any of the following ways:

  • Hyper-arousal is a common symptom of PTSD, as it causes difficulty sleeping, feelings of irritability and being easily startled. Many individuals with PTSD find that their bodies respond negatively to these side effects. For example, not getting enough rest disallows the body to recharge itself, often leading to stiff muscles and weakness. Being irritable and jumpy can lead people to hold their stress in parts of their bodies such as their neck and shoulders, causing knots and muscle tension.
  • Depression – Many people with PTSD also suffer from depression, which can increase pain sensitivity. Because depression can render people disinterested in various activities, they are likely either to stay in bed, lie on the couch or remain inactive. Lack of activity can cause the muscles to cramp up and make both the bones and the skin sore from little to no healthy movement.
  • Injuries – Physical injury is common in those who have PTSD, as their experiences often include violence. As a result, if PTSD patients do not get the right kind of treatment for their disorder, they can experience increased pain in their physical injuries, as their damaged mental state can exaggerate their symptoms.

Hyper-arousal, depression and injuries can all increase pain sensitivity in patients with PTSD.

Treatment for PTSD and Pain

While treating PTSD is a complex task, it is possible. By getting into therapeutic care, an individual with PTSD can understand her disorder and the causes of it, which will help her address these problems in a healthy manner rather than allowing them to make life worse. Not only can those battling PTSD get help mentally, but their physical needs can also be met through physical therapy and strict medication regiments.