Have questions or need help? Call Us Now

Pain From Trauma or Injury

Chronic pain after trauma or injury occurs when there is nerve or tissue damage at or around the site of the original injury. The pain may be short-lived, lasting only a few months after the event, or linger for years. Living with post-traumatic pain can deeply affect your physical and mental health. Though there is no cure for any type of chronic pain, there are ways to manage pain and minimize symptoms. 

What Causes Post-Traumatic Pain?

There are a few factors that may cause post-traumatic pain after an injury. 

  • Those who do not treat their injury with correct pain management techniques are more susceptible to lingering pain post injury. Inadequate treatment may cause a delay in the healing process and can lead to chronic pain. 
  • A poor healing environment may also be the cause of chronic pain. Lack of blood flow to the tissue around the injury may lead to pain and stiffness.
  • Having an underlying health condition, like diabetes or arthritis makes the healing process more difficult, and can make the injured area more susceptible to pain and re-injury.
  • High-risk patients include older adults over the age of 65, having experienced extreme pain during the trauma, an increased hospital stay, and those who experience anxiety or depression.

The feeling of pain is different for every patient, but the most common pain symptoms include: throbbing, burning, decreased mobility, joint stiffness, and swelling at or around the area of the injury. Another common symptom of old injury pain is hypersensitivity – patients often feel pain during very hot or cold days. 

Treating a Post-Traumatic Injury 

Treating trauma pain can be done at home by incorporating a few healthy habits into your daily routine. 

  • Movement is the most important factor in increasing mobility, strength, and movement control. Short daily walks or swims are low impact but have lasting positive effects on your body. With any kind of exercise, small steps are key. Increasing time and intensity too soon may have adverse effects.
  • Mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises can help you become more in tune with your body. Studies have shown that patients who use mindfulness as a treatment experience less activity in the parts of the brain that control pain messages.
  • Heat therapy. Placing a warm, moist towel directly onto the old injury can help relax sore muscles and increase blood circulation. 
  • Ice therapy. Placing ice packs on the area of injury can help numb the nerves, reduce inflammation, and relieve swelling around joints. 

You can also use medication to treat chronic pain from trauma. Anti-inflammatory pain medication (like aspirin or ibuprofen), or opioids can help manage pain. Other treatments include a steroid medication injection to reduce inflammation, and antidepressants or anticonvulsants. Though the benefits of medication may outweigh the side effects, it is important to understand the risks before taking any medication. 

Ongoing physical therapy is also an option for patients suffering from trauma pain. Physical therapy can help increase mobility and movement, improve range of motion, strengthen muscles, and decrease stress. 

Post-trauma pain can be managed with nerve block injections. Nerve blocks offer immediate and long-term relief, though may require multiple injections over time to be effective. As with many treatments, nerve blocks may not work for everyone.

Managing Trauma Pain with the Pain Institute of Middle Tennessee

No medication or treatment plan will stop post-traumatic injury pain completely, but the Pain Institute of Middle Tennessee can help. Request an appointment today with one of our physicians and learn to manage your trauma pain.