Complications of Pain

complications pain

There are many complications related to Chronic pain. Probably one of the worst  is the stress that results from pain.

Unfortunately certain parts of the brain cannot tell the difference between physical and emotional stress, not even bad stress from good stress. Stress is stress.

Flight Fright Fight Response

The body responds with the flight fright fight response.  The changes that result from this stress response include increased adrenaline and norepinephrine. If these stress hormones are high for a few days, cortisol starts to rise. These hormonal changes can cause many different problems, long term even weight gain.  ADH, anti-diuretic hormone, is another hormone that can be released with stress and cause swelling of extremities, including fingers, toes, legs.

See another link I received from Twitter. Affects of chronic pain on the endocrine system.

Undertreatment of Pain

Undertreatment of pain causes complications as well and carries a signicant risk to people suffering with pain. Not only can the suffering cause undue discomfort, but it can also lead to increased disability, financial loss, family distress and even poor health outcomes, and if the pain is severe, there is the risk of a person turning to “street” drugs.

Depression and anxiety  can result from undertreated pain and both depression and anxiety make pain worse. It is hard to break the vicious cycle. There are many mental health resources available and asking for help is a smart move.


Insomnia can be a complication of chronic pain or a cause of chronic pain. There are many options for managing insomnia that do not involve addictive medications. Sleeping pills, called hypnotics, and tranquilizers, may have sometimes serious and long-term side effects, including dementia. Speak to your healthcare provider about these side effects.

Many physicians choose a low dose antidepressant to help sleep. In low doses they are not helpful for depression. If you have depression, speak to your healthcare provider.

Website for sleep management: CBT for insomina


it is normal to have stress and anxiety. Pain causes more anxiety.

The need to control things around you – the more you feel everything has to be just SO – the need to have things perfect – the more likely you are to suffer from excess anxiety.

The art of living is learning that the more you try to control things, the more energy you use – the more tired you get and the more tired people get of you.

The more reassurances you need – the more likely you are to have anxiety. For example, if a doctor tells you everything is fine, but you continue to feel unsure, do express to the doctor that you feel something is wrong. Most of the time you will know if something is wrong. Unfortunately, people with anxiety often feel threatened by symptoms of pain. This makes pain worse.

You could be happy and still have anxiety. Even excess happiness is a form of anxiety. Stress, whether overly excited about something, or overly upset about something – is seen as STRESS by the body and the reacts accordingly – see above.

Thinking about tomorrow or the future – is anxiety

Thinking about the past – is depression

Palouse Mindfulness


Balancing the risks of medications with their benefits is difficult.  It can be a headache for the patient as well as the healthcare provider. Medication risks and side effects are too complex to discuss on this site. Please consult your healthcare provider.

PTSD can be a cause or a complication from painPTSD