Silver Linings Mental Health

The Connection between Chronic Pain and Trauma

Written by Wendy Karsh, LCSW, Clinical Director of Silver Linings


Chronic pain and trauma are closely interconnected. Trauma, whether it be physical, emotional, or psychological, can affect our body and mind. When a person experiences trauma, their nervous system can become out of sync, leading to heightened sensitivity, hypervigilant behavior, and increased pain perception. Additionally, traumatic experiences can cause the brain to experience changes in the areas responsible for processing pain signals. This can result in a hypersensitivity to pain and an increase of pain sensations, even in the absence of physical injury. Experiencing a trauma may also lead to the development of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders, which can further exacerbate pain symptoms and create a severe and challenging cycle of chronic pain and trauma.


Addressing chronic pain and trauma can involve a multi-faceted approach that combines medical treatment, therapy, and self-care strategies. Here are some possible ways to address chronic pain and trauma:


  • Seek medical attention: Consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in pain management to assess and treat any physical conditions contributing to chronic pain.
  • Consider Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you develop coping mechanisms and address the emotional aspects of trauma.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy may also be useful for processing and resolving traumatic experiences. Developing mindfulness skills may also be effective in reducing symptoms of trauma and choric pain. Work with your therapist to find the approach that works best for you.  Click here to find a Silver Linings therapist who is trained in EMDR https://www.silverliningsmh.com/
  • Medications: Medications may be helpful in managing pain and alleviating related symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
  • Support groups: Joining a support group and connecting with others who have similar experiences can provide a safe space for sharing and receiving support.
  • Self-care techniques: Engaging in self-care activities such as regular exercise, relaxation techniques and mindfulness (such as deep breathing and meditation), maintaining a balanced diet, and good sleep hygiene can help manage both chronic pain and trauma symptoms.
  • Alternative therapies: Some individuals find relief in alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage therapy, among many other interventions. These approaches can complement traditional medical treatments.


The connection between chronic pain and trauma is complex and may show up differently for each person. Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop chronic pain, and not all chronic pain is directly related to trauma. However, if you do experience this connection, it is important to find interventions that address both emotional and physical aspects of trauma and pain, and vital to develop a plan that works for you.


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Thank you for your interest in Silver Linings Mental Health. We understand therapy can be an intimidating process and we recognize that it requires great courage to reach out. We have a team of compassionate therapists eager to help.


I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Proud Owner of Silver Linings Mental Health.  I am currently focusing on expanding our practice, teaching trauma informed care through the Silver Linings Institute, and providing consultation services to other practice owners.

I love empowering other therapists to take the leap into the world of private practice.  Whether you are an already established practice or are just beginning, I will provide guidance.  Oftentimes, the biggest obstacle is transferring from a therapist’s mindset to now being a business owner. 

The therapist’s mindset encompasses a deep understanding of human behavior, emotional intelligence, and effective communication. This perspective is invaluable in navigating interpersonal relationships, fostering a positive company culture, and addressing the psychological aspects of both employees and clients.

Simultaneously, the business owner mindset contributes a results-driven orientation, strategic vision, and a keen sense of adaptability to the mix. Entrepreneurs are adept at setting goals, making informed decisions, and steering their company through challenges.

The merging of these two mindsets can result in a holistic leadership style that recognizes the symbiotic relationship between employee well-being and business success. This integrative approach not only enhances team dynamics but also cultivates a work environment where individuals feel understood, supported, and motivated to contribute their best, thereby creating a thriving and sustainable business.  I will help you with combining both mindsets in order to foster a sustainable business plan.