Mental Health

PTSD Patients Have Diminished Pain Response

The anxiety disorder may lead to altered processing signals, study finds. People struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be less sensitive to pain, researchers report. PTSD Patients Have Diminished Pain Response
The anxiety disorder may lead to altered processing signals, study finds

MONDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) — People struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be less sensitive to pain, researchers report.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that may occur when a person is exposed to a traumatic event. People with PTSD may wake up often, “re-experience” the event, and avoid stimuli related to the event.

Elbert Geuze, of Central Military Hospital and the Rudolph Magnus Institute of Neuroscience in the Netherlands, and colleagues examined pain processing in people with PTSD.

The study, published in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, included 24 male Dutch veterans. Half of the men had PTSD and half did not.

The researchers applied variable temperatures to the hands of the men, and had them rate the pain they experienced. At the same time, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor the men’s brain activity.

The participants with PTSD rated the temperatures as less painful than did those without PTSD.

The fMRI monitoring revealed that the participants with PTSD showed altered pain processing in brain areas associated with mood and pain processing.

“Before fMRI, patients with PTSD already showed a significant reduction in pain sensitivity,” the authors wrote. “During imaging, patients with PTSD rated a fixed temperature as significantly less painful than control veterans.”

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about post-traumatic stress disorder.

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