How Having PTSD Can Impact Chronic Body Pain

Finding solutions when there is no guide

Ainslie Caswell
4 min readDec 13, 2020


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For the past several years, I have been chasing pain in my body. It feels like a phantom.

It has no discernible cause. I cannot pinpoint a start date. I cannot replicate the symptoms at a specific time, nor does it seem to get worse or better if I do certain things.

I had similar types of pain as a child. Specifically, it was in my neck. I was well aware that even if I brought this pain to the attention of an adult they would ask me to describe it in more detail or ask me how to replicate it. I would be unable. Things like that were dismissed, or only attended to only when they got worse.

Now in my adulthood, things seem to be getting worse. The body pain I’m currently experiencing is interrupting my day-to-day choices. A set of x-rays came back showing signs of arthritis, in my mid-30s. I seem unable to identify triggers, beyond poor desk structures or a bad mattress. Seeing a chiropractor can be a quick fix, but began being even unable to manage pain in the short term.

After a few years of forced optimism, neck and back gizmos from the internet, regular chiropractor visits and even finally starting EMDR, the pain was actually getting worse rather than better.

Strangely, this didn’t completely discourage me. At least the pain wasn’t stagnant. It was moving as I was progressing through therapy. However, it wasn’t moving in the direction I would prefer. I saw this going one of two ways.

1. I could either keep sinking more and more money into guessing which therapy and gizmos would work for me during the lengthy emotional healing process while I waited for the physical process to catch up. Or…

2. I could chase the physical pain just as proactively as I was chasing my psychological pain.

I was seen by a physical therapist approximately three years after I first remember the pain becoming invasive in my adulthood. Like my mental health, I felt as if I had lots of invalidated and unanswered questions.

After meeting with a young woman, I finally had someone saying: Yes. My shoulders were not symmetrical. There did appear to be a muscle weakness on one side. I…



Ainslie Caswell