Chronic Pain and Trauma
Physical and emotional trauma are linked to chronic pain. In addition, research reports trauma may make people more vulnerable to developing chronic pain.
According to The Institute for Chronic Pain, up to ninety per cent of female clients presenting with fibromyalgia and up to sixty per cent of clients presenting with arthritis report a history of trauma.
Compared to the general population, individuals experiencing chronic pain have reported at least double the rate of previous trauma in their lives.
What is trauma?
The Australian Psychological Society describes trauma as:
While the American Psychological Association defines trauma as:
Traumatic events may include:
- An accident or medical trauma.
- Sexual or physical abuse in adulthood or in childhood.
- Childhood neglect.
- Being in or witnessing a combat situation.
- A natural disaster.
A traumatic event often overwhelms the body’s and mind’s natural ways to heal itself.
As a result, research reports individuals who have experienced trauma may suffer mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, PTSD, chronic pain and substance-use related disorders.
Chronic pain in mind and body
Mind and body interact in many ways. The stress caused by physical and emotional trauma reinforces the pain. Stress and pain create a self-perpetuating vicious cycle. Stress causes muscle tension and increases inflammation, which results in worsening pain and further increasing pain.
What can you do?
- Do your research.
- Learn the science behind pain to gain a better understanding of how to manage your symptoms.
- Talk to your doctor about pain prescription so you can manage while looking for a long-term treatment that is right for you.
- Consider EMDR therapy.