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Managing back pain is a complicated issue for both patients and doctors. While an MRI or X-ray can check for physical problems, the experience of pain is mostly mental.

Pain is not always the result of a disease or physical trauma. Because of this, it can be difficult for doctors to understand the level of pain a patient may have. Since high dosages of opiate-based pain medications can become addictive, doctors will often be hesitant to prescribe pain medications without evidence. Fortunately, there are alternatives to traditional opiate-based analgesics.

Mental States Can Change the Perception of Pain

Pain is a mental process that takes place in the brain. While an individual may feel pain in a certain part of his or her body, the perception of pain takes place in the mind. Several studies have shown that different people may experience pain in unique ways. For example, two individuals may experience different levels of pain for the same health condition.

Many healthcare facilities use a pain scale that is rated from 1-10. Several medical studies have shown that people will list a wide range of pain levels for the same condition. While a broken arm may have a pain level of eight for one person, it could be a six for another person.

Several research studies show that depression and anxiety increase the level of pain an individual feels. This is known as the Mental Pain Hypothesis.

How Trazodone Changes the Perception of Pain

Trazodone is a type of antidepressant that can be used to improve mood, reduce anxiety and promote a healthy sleep cycle. While trazodone is sometimes used as a regular antidepressant, it often has more negative side effects than newer antidepressants. However, it has significantly fewer side effects than traditional pain medications like morphine and oxycodone.

Trazodone can help change the way the body perceives pain. By reducing depression, it’s possible to minimize the negative mental effects pain has on a patient. However, trazodone is mostly used for people who experience chronic back pain or another long-term issue. Since it can take several weeks for trazodone levels to stabilize in the body, it can’t be used for treating acute or high-level pain.

Drug Interactions and Side Effects

Trazodone is a tricyclic antidepressant. Many tricyclic antidepressants are linked to sexual health problems, constipation, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure and severe dry mouth. Trazodone use should be strictly monitored in younger adults. Since antidepressants can cause suicidal behavior in some people, it’s essential to talk to a doctor about any negative feelings one may have.

In addition, trazodone can interact with drugs that are active in the brain. Since trazodone changes serotonin levels, an important neurotransmitter in the brain, it’s essential to avoid medications that are used to treat mental health issues. This can include ADHD medications, illegal stimulants, psychoactive drugs, pain medications and more.

Trazodone may cause some serious side effects in a small number of people. This can include chest pain, a rapid heartbeat, fever, swelling, poor coordination and muscle spasms. If a patient experiences any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact a doctor immediately.