It’s been a long time since the accident. However you are still left with chronic pain in your neck and back.
Whenever the pain spikes, it reminds you of that fateful day and how everything changed. Eventually, you had to leave your job because the chronic pain was too great, and now you sit at home by yourself.
If you have PTSD and chronic pain, every day can feel like a struggle.
EMDR therapy, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, can help with treating both your post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
What Is Chronic Pain?
The National Institutes of Health considers chronic pain any kind of pain you experience for twelve weeks or longer. Oftentimes, chronic pain develops because of an injury. For example, you injure your back while working at a construction site.
However, sometimes it is not clear why someone is experiencing chronic pain at all.
Chronic pain can lead to mental health problems, such as depression. This is because pain makes it difficult or impossible for a person to experience the quality of life they once enjoyed. For instance, being able to work, pursuing recreational activities and sports, or even doing basic tasks to maintain a home.
How Are PTSD and Chronic Pain Connected?
One reason why PTSD and chronic pain can coexist stems directly from the traumatic incident itself.
Many people who experience trauma also sustain an injury directly related to the traumatic event. For example, being injured in a car accident or during a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood. The pain is a constant and terrible reminder of what happened to you. If you feel pain at the site of the injury, it can bring back painful memories about the day or event when that injury occurred.
Of course, trauma doesn’t have to come from just one incident. Unfortunately, it’s possible to have chronic pain from years of physical abuse too.
No matter what caused your chronic pain, if you have a diminished capacity to live your life the way you want because of this constant pain, that can easily lead to depression.
And there are two important ways that trauma can be connected to chronic pain symptoms:
- Ongoing pain changes our brains- in essence, it’s traumatizing.
- Thoughts and feelings play a huge role in our perception of pain. Emotions and thoughts can intensify pain sensations, and we can react emotionally to pain sensations in ways that intensify discomfort.
Also, research is finding that people who have both PTSD and chronic pain often report higher levels of pain than those who do not have a PTSD diagnosis. Thus, the post-traumatic stress is connected to the painful sensation and can actually make your pain worse.
One reason for this might be what’s called an “anxiety sensitivity” issue. This happens when you are afraid of the pain and what the sensation of pain could do to you.
Using EMDR Therapy to Treat PTSD and Chronic Pain
We all know that post-traumatic stress disorder can be a debilitating condition. But what can be done to treat both it and chronic pain at the same time? Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing can be a big help with treating PTSD and chronic pain in conjunction.
In EMDR therapy, a therapist initiates bilateral eye movements by having you follow their finger back and forth with your eyes or by tapping or other bilateral stimulation. The idea is that, by doing this while at the same time bringing up memories of past events, it will make it easier for your brain to process and resolve the traumatic memory.
By resolving PTSD and its symptoms through EMDR therapy, it also makes it possible to reduce your pain levels, or even to eliminate pain altogether. In fact, the anxiety connected to the traumatic event can subside and diminish your fear of the pain as well.
The mind and the body are more connected than we realize. When one part is injured, the other part will certainly feel the effects of that injury. If you are experiencing PTSD and chronic pain, trauma therapy can help with relieving your symptoms.
Contact me today to find out how I can help you resolve your PTSD and your chronic pain, or read more about my approach to EMDR therapy HERE.