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Effects of chronic pain on the brain

momma zmmomma z Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Depression and Coping
I'm wondering if anyone else can relate to this? I have chronic pain in my lower, mid and now I have issues in my neck. For sometime now I am so hypersensitive, it's like my nervous system is on overload. I do have anxiety some depression and it just seems different. I told my husband I feel like it is "chronic pain on the brain." I'm a horrible passenger in the car, if the person driving doesn't hit the brakes quick enough I jerk like something terrible just happened and it didn't. I don't do it on purpose it just happens. It's happened in parking lots when I'm with my little guy and I want him to hold my hand if a car pulls up next to us fast, I practically jump back, again it just happens. I've heard that over time suffering from chronic pain can change areas of the brain, just wondering if anyone else feels these things happening? I honestly don't know how anyone who suffers everyday doesn't have depression? I think about trying meds again for it then I remember how the side effects were. Oh noise, other people chewing gum and even talking too loud seems amplified too. Do you notice the worse the pain the worse the brain???? That sounds kind of stupid but it's late, my neck hurts and I sat in this chair too long. I hope for relief for you all!


  • Momma z,
    I can totally relate! Prior to the onset of my chronic neck pain a year ago I was one of the most optimistic people you could meet! Always on the go, working, volunteering, planning activities for my daughters. In the past few months it was all I could do just to make it through work. The day I realized that I was in need of help was when I was in the pharmacy getting antibiotics for my sick daughter. When they told me there was a delay and it was going to be another hour I almost started crying. It was at that moment I knew I needed something to help me cope until I could resolve my pain issues.
    my dr prescribed a low dose antidepressant (and I still take a half dose) and it did help me get rid of the feeling like I wanted to either cry or crawl out of my skin. It wasn't a cure, but it improved things.
    I hope you have someone you can talk to that understand the effects of chronic pain. Big hugs!
    April 2011 C1-C2 Fusion (Brooks wiring)
    January 2012 C1-C2 Revision Fusion (Harms Technique)
    2010 - current: Trigger Point Injections, Epidural Injections, Bilateral C2-C3 Radiofrequency Ablations
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    So much of my energy is involved with trying to keep my pain at a tolerable level. With that focus, I have little energy left for concentrating on conversations & I too seem to have heightened sensitivity to sounds, light...
    With emotional traumas, I know the body can become hypervigiliant as response to protect. It makes sense that with chronic physical pain...trauma... that the body could try to care for itself that way.
    You know..like being jumpy.
    With my history of knowing how bad things can get I think that is always in the back of my head as I gauge how I am doing and what I need to do to stay out of pain spiral down to out of control.
    I am on antidepressants and can not even think about how I would struggle without them. You are right about the possible side effects and esp. when you have little ones to care for.
    Best of luck as you try to find a way to feel a little better.
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • I agree. So much energy goes to fighting the pain. I am on antidepressants, muscle relaxers and after my most recent fusion anti anxiety meds. I am only a month out of that surgery so don't expect to be on those like I am the others. You just have to figure out what you have the energy to do and forget how your life used to be.


    Spinal stenosis, spondolysis, spondolythesis, L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion with instrumentation and bone graft from hip, L1/S1 fusion with replacement disc put in, PT, accupuncture, prolotherapy, many cortisone injections, 4 rhizotomies. Currently on tramadol which barely touches the pain.
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Thank you for your posts, I feel validated when someone else "gets it." Yes, jumpy would be a good word to use to describe me! I also liked the part about knowing the history about how bad things can get, yes I haven't forgotten 13 years ago when all of my back troubles started. You think you can't take it anymore then a new area of my spine starts causing me problems. I had an appointment with an ent doctor about my hearing/throat issues and he told me his wife has back problems. Then he asked if anyone in my family did? Yes, dad and brother. So he was saying how people with pain feel "pain" more intensely and I was like "probably" and he said no you do. I felt like he understood me and he's not by back doctor. This conversation started because I said I feel like there is pressure on the front of my throat and he was glancing at the mri of my neck. (pm doc ordered) The ent goes "your 44 going on 80." He meant it in a sympathetic way, but I agreed. Later I felt sad because he's right and I've said those words before, myself. So again I thank you for your comments I do have people that listen to me, but it's such a roller coaster ride I don't expect them to truly understand, but the people that visit this site do and I'm thankful for that. momma
  • There are two types of instinctive stress response that are important to how we understand stress and stress management: the short-term “Fight-or-Flight” response and the long-term “General Adaptation Syndrome”. The first is a basic survival instinct, while the second is a long-term effect of exposure to stress.

    If you google the effects of “Fight-or-Flight” response or syndrome, and what it can do to our bodies/minds when living with CP, it becomes very apparent that learning new tools in understanding and how to live with CP are extremely important for our minds. After a certain amount of time most people become pretty aware that pain medication alone just isn't going to cut it any longer. Our brains are of vital importance..and momma z,great topic!
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