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PTSD and Chronic Pain Connection?


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Just wondering if anyone has any current information or research on PTSD and chronic pain and meds?

I've had a chronic ptsd condition for many years, but been experiencing a lot more physical pain (arthritis, rheumatoid-like) and I know I should get to the doctor on that-- pain has been been screwing up my sleep, which in turn also amps up suceptibility to PTSD symptoms coming on.

Recently, went through a fair bit of triggering over a few weeks, and started noticing that my physiology wasn't actually re-stablizing (even checking out my BP, radical shifts going on), even though I thought it was okay (used my CBT, etc.), so I took a leftover Clonazepam from an old prescription, not only did it re-normalize ptsd-physiology (and re-checked BP, back to normal), but I discovered that I also had a lot less physical pain (which has been everywhere, upper back, shoulders, neck, to feet, knees, hips, etc.) -- noticeable difference and relief (aspirins weren't working, totally useless).

I've heard of side conditions that can arise with ptsd, including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, but I'm wondering about the physiology of "constriction symptoms" with ptsd (tightened muscles, unable to relax them, teeth grinding, etc in addition to "ready to fight" physiology) and that connection to arthritis symptoms.  Frustrating because chronic pain can also increase irritabilility, restrict activity, again potential physiological (and social issues even, encouraging further avoidance)  which can make ptsd symptoms more likely to act up.

Well you should look at things from a couple of different angles - if you think you have rheumatoid symptoms, they should be explored as such first, to rule out a rheumatological condition - true rheumatoid arthritis has to be managed alot differently than fibromyalgia for instance, since RA is an auto-immune disorder, and fibromyalgia is from (at least we think) overactive pain nerves and neither are treated the same way.

Next look at things practically - you're saying that lately you've been tense, anxious by sounds of things, and all those lead to tight muscles, which eventually get painful, as will the joints they support - neck, shoulders and TMJ (jaw) as examples.  If things settled down with your anxiety med (the clonazepam), you might just have your culprit.  People that are depressed and or anxious have alot of problems dealing with even a minor amount of pain, simply because one will worsen the other and turn into a vicious circle - I'm sore, not feeling on top of things mentally, so that adds up, then can't sleep, which makes life in and of itself, much less a painful one, next to impossible to manage...and so on.  Check in with your both your physical and mental health professionals, explain what's going on, what's worked, what hasn't and if anything new is happening and see if anything needs testing and or tweeking.

Hope that helps a bit.

Thanks MM-- that clarification does help out a lot.

I should stop avoiding going to the doctor and get things checked out.  Your post helped me think things through, so I could write a history and where things have been at. 

I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

Thank you.
I'm in the civilian medical care system.  Got some NSAIDs (naproxen) and sent home.  A year wait for specialist.  A year wait for physio (my knee gave out, and I have to walk with a cane, but I can cycle and swim), so I'll keep up with these exercises they gave me-- swimming helps upper back shoulders (so maybe that's bursitis. . .?), I have more moblity since injury so I can do that now.

I notice a stress connection between other pain attacks and extreme fatigue and I think I've got different things on the go, osteo-arthritis has been validated (by GP)-- but the blood tests they did, found out after the fact, didn't screen properly for RA. . . who knows, because I got to wait anyway. . . and the system is as it is. . . 

Some research I found recently re: chronic pain, re: PTSD and inflammation disorders (heart, arthritis, etc.):