Susanne Babbel (Ph.D., M.F.T) gives a clear description of the relationship between chronic pain, trauma and stress in this 2010 article. Her insights help to explain why a multi-disciplinary approach to healing can be most effective.
Studies have shown that chronic pain might not only be caused by physical injury but also by stress and emotional issues. In particular, people who have experienced trauma and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are often at a higher risk to develop chronic pain.
Chronic pain is defined as prolonged physical pain that lasts for longer than the natural healing process should allow. This pain might stem from injuries, inflammation, or neuralgias and neuropathies (disorders of the nerves), but some people suffer in the absence of any of these conditions. Chronic pain can debilitate one’s ability to move with ease, may hinder their normal functioning, and the search for relief can lead to pain medication addictions, which compound the problem. Chronic pain is also often accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, depression and anxiety.
Many people are already familiar with the fact that emotional stress can lead to stomachaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches, but might not know that it can also cause other physical complaints and even chronic pain. One logical reason for this: studies have found that the more anxious and stressed people are, the more tense and constricted their muscles are, over time causing the muscles to become fatigued and inefficient.
More subtly, one might develop psychosomatic symptoms or stress-related symptoms because of unresolved emotional issues. These are not new discoveries; researchers have studied the mind/body interrelationship for several decades because of the importance of this link.
Continue reading here: Psychology Today