How PTSD Can Increase Pain Sensitivity

Category : Sex Addiction Information

How PTSD Can Increase Pain SensitivitySince the veterans returning from the Vietnam War helped increase awareness of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), considerable amounts of research have been conducted to better understand this disorder.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is an anxiety disorder, which stems from a particular incident evoking significant stress. Most often, a person experiences or witnesses an event that involves actual or threatened death, serious injury or a threat to physical health.

Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms of PTSD

In response to these threatening events, people may feel intense fear, helplessness or horror. Other emotional and behavioral symptoms of PTSD include the following:

  • Fear
  • Withdrawal
  • Guilt
  • Pacing and restlessness
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Denial
  • Anti-social acts
  • Suspicion and paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Inability to rest
  • Depression
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Intense anger
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Other substance abuse
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Agitation
  • Apprehension

These symptoms clearly suggest that people with PTSD are at risk for complications including addiction and suicide.

Physical Symptoms of PTSD

In addition to the emotional and behavioral symptoms of PTSD, many people experience physical reactions, including the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Twitches
  • Thirst
  • Weakness
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Muscle tremors
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Profuse sweating
  • Pounding heart
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches

Symptoms of PTSD are not limited to emotional responses and can include a range of physical reactions, including pain.

PTSD and Pain

One of the most obvious relationships between PTSD and pain occurs when the traumatic event caused a physical injury. If a soldier was injured in combat or a person who survived a flood was injured in the event, it is understandable to connect PTSD with pain.

However, there is a growing awareness of the need to explore the relationship between chronic pain and PTSD when an injury is not involved. The Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system has provided information that suggests that chronic pain and PTSD co-occur at a high rate and may interact in such a way as to negatively impact the course of each disorder. There are several research theories being explored regarding PTSD and pain, including the following:

  • Mutual maintenance model: This theory suggests that there is a relationship between the two issues. For example, pain may be a reminder of a traumatic event, which in turn triggers an arousal response causing the person to avoid the cause of the pain and the memories associated with the trauma. Another mutual similarity between PTSD and pain is that anxiety, fatigue, lethargy and depression often contribute to both disorders
  • Shared vulnerability model: This theory suggests that anxiety is a predisposing factor contributing to the development of both pain and PTSD. This shared vulnerability means that both pain sensitivity and PTSD respond in a shared fashion to a particular element, such as anxiety.

These theories suggest that there is a close relationship between PTSD and pain.

Get Help for PTSD and Pain

While understanding the connection between pain and PTSD is important, getting help to relieve the symptoms you are experiencing on a daily basis is even more important. Please call our toll-free number today. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have about PTSD and pain treatment.