Why Complex Chronic Pain and PTSD Often Co-Occur with Veterans and How Treatment Helps

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is known mainly for veterans coming back from war. People think less about family and loved ones who may struggle every day due to trauma from their past. PTSD is being recognized for its impact on a person’s physical health. Veterans often suffer from circulatory, respiratory, nervous system, and other infectious diseases. Chronic pain can also be part of their story, which makes it hard for them to seek help from addiction.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain may be defined as pain that persists longer than three months. Pain experienced by veterans is reported as worse than the average public because exposure to injury and psychological stress can increase pain. Women are also prone to suffering from chronic pain more than male veterans. Female veterans diagnosed with PTSD had higher rates of pain and overall poor health than women in general. There is not much known about the complexities of trauma along with PTSD and chronic pain because there are so many factors that play a role. The ability to manage chronic pain is limited for people in the military, but as veterans, their pain can get worse without relief.


People are often stigmatized for ‘invisible pain’ that people cannot see from the outside. There is a belief that chronic pain is psychosomatic, or not real. Within this framework, there are urges for women and men to stand up against people who tell them ‘it’s all in your mind,’ and do not encourage them to seek treatment. This may mean they don’t get help for PTSD, other mental health issues, and other chronic illnesses that impact their quality of life. This may also drive substance use to deal with the pain.

Finding Help

Treatment is often difficult for veterans because it is multi-layered. The veteran may feel helpless in coping with physical pain, along with emotional trauma. People with PTSD and chronic pain share anxiety, fear, and other issues that keep them from seeking help. A person with high anxiety may be fearful of physical responses to pain, which keeps them from moving forward. Suffering is boundless for people because they often don’t know how to find help. They need to reach out to places that offer treatment for complex trauma, pain and support their journey of healing with the right tools. When they find the right treatment program, they often find healing comes slowly, but eventually, and they can regain control of their lives back from addiction and other challenges they faced.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. We provide support for veterans and others who struggle with ‘invisible conditions’ like chronic pain and addiction. We are here to help. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.