Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Chronic pain is a rarely mentioned side effect or symptom or cause of PTSD. Many days of my life, I wake up, I move, I’m in pain, I’m not dead, therefore, I have to get up. Bummer. I could never figure out what was causing some of my aches and pain. I learned their are several categories:
- Pain caused by a physical injury or ailment. Sadly, I was taught to ignore this. I would get hit and my abuser would tell me it didn’t hurt….really messes with your mind and ability to protect yourself.
- Pain that are body memories from past events when the physical healing is done but the body is still holding a grudge.
- Pain that is a side effect from tension….tension head aches, sore muscles from your mind putting you body on high alert for long periods of time.
- Phantom pain…oh boy is this one ever real. For those that have lost part of their body in injuries or surgery, the part removed can still hurt. I felt this after my complete mastectomy on one side of my body. My breast wasn’t their but it hurt.
Difficult part of treating/caring for chronic pain is no one agrees on how much pain a person is experiencing. Distortions of training a person to ignore pain and carrying on as if nothing is wrong. I ended up in the hospital because I ignored my stomach hurting for years. I told my parents when I was young but I was told I was just seeking attention and there was nothing wrong with me. My doctor that discovered that the only part holding me together was the outer lining of my stomach asked me, “Weren’t you in a lot of pain?” Actually yes but years of conditioning I ignored what my body was trying to tell me that something was very wrong on the inside. After 2 years of medication I found out that my stomach doesn’t hurt all the time now. Kind of cool to have that pain gone. Body tension is my biggest challenge. Stress harbors in the muscles until I hurt all over. Relaxing is a major challenge.
An article on the VA page prompted me to write about pain. Their information is general overview of the challenges faced when living with PTSD. If you are starting on the journey to healing, this might help you understand some of the challenges faced by those living with chronic pain.
After talking with one of my medical doctors, before I started counseling, he suggested that my pain was all in my head. I groused, “If it is all in my head, why does my body hurt so much?”