How to Manage Trauma Manifesting as Body Pain

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How to Manage Trauma Manifesting as Body Pain

Many people are familiar with the lingering effects of trauma on mental and emotional health. Yet, fewer people are familiar with the connection between trauma and chronic pain. Those with trauma manifesting as body pain may endure a wide range of physical complications, from ongoing headaches and migraines to chronic exhaustion, aching joints, and more. Fortunately, by participating in treatment, individuals can utilize professional support and guidance to heal from unresolved trauma and associated effects, including both mental and physical symptoms. 

At Avalon Malibu, we understand how frustrating it can be to navigate life with ongoing body aches and pains. If such symptoms are caused by unresolved trauma, recovery will require addressing and processing past trauma while utilizing treatments to address associated physical pain. By offering a plethora of treatment methods, from acupuncture to pain management, yoga, massage therapy, and more, we have what individuals need to achieve lasting healing from mental health disorders, substance abuse, and trauma manifesting as body pain. 

The Lasting Effects of Trauma on the Brain and Body

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), trauma can result from any event or circumstance that brings about physical, emotional, and/or life-threatening harm. As SAMHSA states, “Although many people who experience a traumatic event will go on with their lives without lasting negative effects, others will have difficulties and experience traumatic stress reactions.” 

Moreover, the publication titled Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services by SAMHSA highlights the range of reactions that may result from traumatic experiences. Such reactions can occur across several domains, including:

  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Cognitive
  • Behavioral
  • Social 
  • Developmental

As mentioned previously, many people are familiar with the emotional reactions that may result from trauma. For instance, some individuals may become depressed or develop anxiety after enduring a life-threatening experience. Yet, trauma can also trigger the development of physical aches and pains, which can be just as frustrating and debilitating as related emotional reactions to trauma. 

Hyperarousal: Trauma Manifesting as Body Pain

One of the main explanations as to why traumatic experiences often manifest as body pain is that trauma can inform hyperarousal. As explained in the aforementioned publication, hyperarousal happens when the body and mind (the body’s fight-or-flight system) remain on high alert, even when there is no real danger or threat. Although the body’s fight-or-flight response is responsible for providing an individual with the energy it needs to respond to perceived dangers, the chronic activation of this response can trigger severe consequences for an individual’s physical and mental well-being. 

In addition to physical aches and pains, hyperarousal can also trigger:

  • Sleep disturbances and insomnia
  • Muscle tension
  • Pervasive jitteriness
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Panic

The Body Keeps the Score: Trauma Manifesting as Chronic Pain

Another helpful way to understand hyperarousal is by recognizing that the body keeps the score. In other words, just as trauma can leave a lasting imprint on the brain, it can also leave a lasting imprint on the body. Traumatic experiences disrupt memory processes and alter the way that the brain functions. Likewise, such trauma can be stored in the body, triggering body pains that may not surface for years after a trauma initially occurred. 

It is also necessary to understand that trauma manifesting as body pain can quickly transform into complex, chronic pain. The Journal of Pain highlights some helpful prevalences of trauma, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain. For instance, “[C]hronic pain is reported in 20 to 80% of individuals with a history of trauma, and 10 to 50% of individuals with PTSD report chronic pain.” Additionally, “[T]he presence of chronic pain and PTSD increases symptom severity in both conditions.”

Moreover, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) explains, “Survivors of physical, psychological, or sexual abuse tend to be more at risk for developing certain types of chronic pain later in their lives.” Nevertheless, there are effective treatment options available to help individuals heal from hyperarousal, chronic pain, and associated trauma manifesting as body pain. 

Treatment for Trauma Manifesting as Body Pain

At Avalon Malibu, we offer a myriad of treatments for individuals seeking recovery from substance abuse, psychiatric and mental health disorders, trauma, and all associated symptoms these conditions may cause. For those experiencing trauma manifesting as body pain, some of the unique treatment options we offer that may help manage symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Acupuncture: A traditional Chinese treatment that works by inserting fine needles into the skin – more specifically, intentional energy points – to treat health concerns like chronic pain. 
  • Massage therapy: Involves manipulating deep layers of muscle and tissue in the body to promote relaxation, release toxins, and enhance the overall functioning of the body. 
  • Pain management: Incorporates interdisciplinary treatment to teach individuals pain management skills to improve their quality of life and reduce the severity of body pain symptoms. 
  • Yoga: Involves both breathwork and the use of various physical postures to build strength, flexibility, and improve the mind-body connection

For more on how to manage trauma manifesting as body pain, reach out to our treatment center today. 

Trauma is stored in the body through both the process of hyperarousal and the mere understanding that the body keeps the score. Healing from trauma manifesting as body pain is a journey, one that will require both professional guidance and peer support. Fortunately, we at Avalon Malibu have the treatment programs and methods that individuals need to heal from trauma and its associated effects. If you or a loved one are interested in beginning the recovery journey to lasting pain management and healing, do not hesitate to reach out to learn more about our programs today. Connect with a staff member by calling (844) 857-5992 for more information and support. 

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