New studies have found that the source of your chronic pain may very well be caused by stress and emotional trauma and not a physical injury. Chronic pain is characterized by physical pain that lasts longer than the natural healing process would normally take. People who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are at highest risk.
You’re probably aware that stress can lead to physiological issues like headaches, stomach aches, and an irritable bowel. What you may not realize is that it can cause other physical issues and chronic pain. One reason for this is because the more stressed out a person is, the more tense they tend to be.
Researchers for decades have studied the mind-body link between emotions and overall health. They found that somewhere between 15 and 30 percent of patience diagnosed with chronic disease also suffer from PTSD.
Trauma happens “when our ability to respond to a perceived threat is in some way overwhelming,” writes Peter Levine, a trauma expert. Some researchers don’t agree with this definition of trauma but can agree with the idea that trauma can induce physiological symptoms like numbing, pain, nightmares, flashbacks, and avoidance behavior.
“Whether or not trauma was connected to the event or condition that originated their pain, having a chronic pain condition is traumatizing in and of itself,” writes Maggie Phillips, the author of Reversing Chronic Pain. And since our nervous systems go into survival mode during trauma, it can be hard to recover.
“Research has shown that, under ordinary conditions, many traumatized people, including rape victims, battered women and abused children, have a fairly good psychosocial adjustment,” says Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a renowned trauma expert. “However, they do not respond to stress the way other people do. Under pressure, they may feel (or act) as if they were traumatized all over again.”