Post-traumatic pain is the physical pain your body experiences after a severe injury has healed. Nerve damage often causes this chronic pain and occurs as a result of the initial injury. Injuries that cause chronic pain are often one of the two main types, blunt force trauma and penetrating trauma.
Blunt force trauma is when an object hits the body with enough force to cause serious injuries such as a concussion or broken bones. On the other hand, penetrating trauma is when something pierces the skin and creates an open wound. Both types of trauma can cause nerve damage or pressure on the nerve resulting in pain.
With chronic pain, it can be easy to determine the source of the pain because it usually has sprung up out of nowhere. Knowing the source of your pain allows you to understand better how to deal with it long-term.
After your injury begins to heal and the initial pain subsides, you may experience the common symptoms of post-traumatic pain. These symptoms usually include pain, swelling, redness, changes in skin temperature, and hypersensitivity in the area of the injury.
Here is a list of some common symptoms that could indicate you are dealing with chronic pain:
- Change in skin temperature; the skin could appear sweaty and then quickly become cold
- Changes in skin texture. Skin could be tender and sensitive, as well as thin or shiny
- Changes in skin color, becoming white and spotted, and then red or blue.
- Constant burning and throbbing pain.
- Decreased mobility of the area, stiffness, and swelling.
- Sensitivity to touching certain surfaces or to cold temperatures.
- Increased pain appears to be caused by stress.
You should speak with your doctor if you have suffered from physical trauma and are experiencing any of these symptoms in the area affected.
Treating Post-Traumatic Pain
There are several options for treating the physical aspect of post-traumatic pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can help alleviate some of the swelling and discomfort. If these medications cannot provide enough relief, other options require seeing a doctor.
Sympathetic nerve-blocking medications involve injecting an anesthetic that will block pain signals from the nerve that has been damaged and can sometimes offer relief. Doctors can also prescribe steroids to help with the inflammation, especially if the pain has decreased mobility.
In some cases, you can use electrical currents in an effort to relieve pain caused by damaged nerves. Spinal cord stimulation can help by delivering a small electrical current to the spinal cord using tiny electrodes. Similarly, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation applies electrical impulses to nerve endings near the source of the pain.
Additionally, physical therapy and exercising the limb can sometimes be a helpful method for relieving the pain, especially if you start early in the diagnosis.
Mental Health and Pain
Persistent pain resulting from an injury is not only physically taxing but can also affect your mental health. When pain is prolonged, it can begin contributing to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also affect your sleep, relationships, and ability to work, all contributing to decreased mental health and motivation.
When dealing with pain due to physical trauma, it is especially important to take care of your mental health and note any potential declines. If you feel you have new or worsening depression, anxiety, or stress seeking medical attention for your mental health is just as important as treating your physical pain.
Treatment options are available for people experiencing mental health issues due to their pain. Cognitive-behavioral therapy addresses negative thoughts and behaviors and teaches ways to shift to more positive thinking. Interpersonal therapy is a different method used to improve social relationships and social support to help improve individuals’ moods while also increasing support for dealing with pain.
Sometimes therapy is not enough to treat depression or anxiety, in which case medications like antidepressants can be helpful. A medical professional will be able to help you determine which is the best option for you.
When living with pain following an injury, the most important thing is to seek the help you need. No one should live in constant pain, and ignoring it will only risk the pain increasing. Your pain does not define you, and plenty of resources and options are available to get you back to living a comfortable life.
Veronica Davis is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant operating out of the greater Philadelphia area. She writes for Philadelphia car accident attorney Cousin Benny.