Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

Fibromyalgia and PTSD-Pain Multiplied

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Jul 12, 2013 12:48 PM

A very common disability patient for me complains of pain all over, sensitivity to touch, achey and sore muscles and joints and back, depression, anxiety or worry, and difficulty concentrating. These patients carry the diagnosis of fibromyalgia quite often, among other maladies. When I question them about childhood or adult abuse in their backgrounds, it's there almost 100%. Whether or not they sleep well or wake up with nightmares, whether or not they have flashbacks or resolution and forgiveness, the influence of the former abusive disasters persists in their being. In fact, early abuse and neglect, according to research, wires babies and young children diffently because their stress levels are so extreme that their nerves learn to be supersensitive, always on alert, and then oversensitive and overreactive to any kind of pain-physical and emotional.

These victims of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, whether they know it or not, experience real pain extra because it is like pressing on existing wounds and loudly replaying echos of the past. Unfortunately, doctors who look at their MRI's or other tests don't see why they are so symptomatic, especially compared to others who function better. They label these patients as hypochondriacs sometimes. Then, misunderstood, the improperly treated patient becomes more anxious and depressed, beyond what they might experience anyway.

So, what to do? I believe that more medical professionals should look at patients holistically, treating their bodies and minds, not one doctor for the back and another for the nerves and another for circulation and another for the foot and another for the psyche. No one, then, puts together the whole picture. Each gives another medication and another problem crops up-drug interactions, side effects, and addictions. What a mess!

There's not an easy treatment plan, though, even with the holistic perspective, but pain management could include psychotherapeutic counseling'; earning to use imagery and self-talk to heal; some meditative training, like Tai Chi, Yoga, martial arts; some alternative aids, like acupuncture, massage, chiropracty, and/or Reiki; and the necessary medications to help ease the inflammation. Even with relief from some or all of these interventions, plus, ideally, family and friend support and love, the patient needs to live life as fully as possible around and through the pain, concentrating on everything good as a distraction from what's not.

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