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Orthopaedic trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness that is most commonly associated with severe physical or emotional trauma experienced in war situations. It has key symptoms and can impact an affected individual's life for decades.

One set of symptom is having recurring feelings, memories or dreams of the events from which the PTSD originated. These are called intrusion symptoms, because they intrude upon the person's life. They can make day-to-day life stressful. A simple recollection of the painful event can trigger extreme distress, and nightmares may prevent peaceful sleep.

Another symptom is the need to avoid any activity, place or remembrances that could possibly be experienced as related to the original event. You may push people who want to understand and help away in the belief that no one could understand or help. These are called avoidance symptoms, because they are about avoiding the issue.

You may also have arousal symptoms. These include being irritable and angry. They also include being startled by small sounds and feeling a need to be alert all of the time.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can spring from orthopedic trauma, like getting a fracture or being wounded by a bullet from a gun. Though the injury itself in such cases may heal, the emotional trauma may continue for years and years. This is a serious issue with long-term health and legal ramifications.

Because PTSD can have a significant adverse effect on your health like any sustained source of stress can, it can decrease the quality of your day-to-day life. If you feel that you have PTSD, you should go to a doctor and take the tests needed to know. You may also want to talk with an attorney to see if there is legal action that you should take.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After Orthopaedic Trauma," accessed Feb. 19, 2016

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