I’ve blogged about benzo withdrawal pain before, but it never hurts to revisit a benzo withdrawal symptom. For those of you keeping count, this is my 707th blog post in the last 12 years! So yeah, some information will get repeated. 🙂
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as ‘benzos,’ is a complex process that affects multiple systems in the body. Among the plethora of symptoms one can experience during benzodiazepine withdrawal, the sensation of pain is notably prevalent and varies in type and intensity. Understanding the scope of this pain, from muscle aches to nerve twinges and even to dental discomfort, can shed light on the comprehensive and multifaceted nature of benzodiazepine withdrawal.
The Multidimensional Nature of Pain
Pain during benzo withdrawal is not a one-dimensional experience; rather, it manifests in various forms affecting different parts of the body. Here are some of the most commonly reported types of pain:
One of the most frequent complaints during benzo withdrawal is muscle pain. Individuals report discomfort ranging from generalized soreness to specific localized muscle spasms. This pain is often described as a dull ache that becomes more intense during periods of stress or inactivity. Physical exertion can cause muscle aches and pains that can last for hours or even days. What helps?? Hot or cold compresses, gentle stretching, warm baths, gentle massage, easy walks or yoga. Avoid muscle relaxers, magnesium supplements, and Epsom salts. Some people report that Tiger Balm or other such ointments can help. They may rev up some, so test and learn if they work for you.
Nerve pain, or neuropathic pain, is another form of discomfort reported during benzo withdrawal. This type of pain manifests as tingling, burning, or sharp, shooting pains. It tends to affect the extremities but can occur in other parts of the body as well. Nerve pain in the face or head can be especially uncomfortable. Feet and hands are very common spots for nerve pain. What helps? Hot or cold compresses. Swimming, a warm shower or bath, and distraction. Tylenol has helped a few. Avoid Aleve or Advil as they can rev up symptoms. Be careful with any NSAIDs, as they can harm organs.
Bone pain is less common but still reported by some individuals. This pain can feel deep and penetrating, often described as a dull ache or throb deep within the bones. The tibia is a common painful bone in withdrawal, as are the bones in the feet. what helps? Oftentimes, resting the bones will help. The same remedies for muscle pain can work to help cope with bone pain.
Joint pain during withdrawal can be debilitating, affecting mobility and quality of life. The pain can be acute or chronic, manifesting in a range of symptoms from mild discomfort to severe inflammation. The pain can be sharp, shooting, hot, electric, dull, or achy. It has been described in various ways. Fingers are commonly affected, as are wrists, knees, hips, and shoulders. Hip pain can be very painful, causing one to become bedridden or couch-bound for a period of time. What helps? Keeping the joints warm can help. Gentle stretching has proven to reduce pain as well. If you choose to take an over-the-counter analgesic, choose one in the acetaminophen family. Use with caution, as high or repeated doses can be harmful. Avoid steroid injections (if you can), as they can make withdrawal symptoms far worse.
Some individuals report experiencing eye pain, which can feel like a pressure behind the eyes or a piercing sensation. This can be accompanied by visual disturbances like blurriness, floaters, double vision, or peripheral flashes of light. Feeling as if sand or an eyelash is in the eye has also been reported, along with a dry or scratchy feeling. Redness and irritation can be present. What helps? Soothing, lubricating eye drops, saline eye washes, warm or cold compresses, and resting your eyes can help reduce symptoms. Wear sunglasses when in bright light and blue light-blocking glasses when using a screen device.
Tooth and gum pain are other concerns during benzo withdrawal. Some report heightened sensitivity to hot and cold substances, while others describe a dull ache or even sharp, shooting pains in their teeth. Many people have had needless root canals or extractions due to dental pain caused by benzo withdrawal. Feeling as if a tooth is moving, twisting, or twirling is also common. What helps? Warm or cold beverages, eating soft foods, and gargling with salt water. Use a gentle toothbrush, floss daily, and if you use a mouthwash, use one without alcohol.
Beyond the teeth, the general oral cavity, including the tongue, can be affected. Symptoms like dry mouth can lead to discomfort, and some people report experiencing a “burning mouth syndrome” characterized by a scalding sensation or intense tingling. Sometimes, the pain subsides, and one reports a sense of numbness in the mouth or tongue. I used to wake up with the insides of my cheeks chewed up from mouth movements while I slept. I also had burning mouth syndrome. What helps? This is a challenging benzo withdrawal pain as there aren’t many things that help. You can try the remedies listed above for dental pain. If you have something that works for you that isn’t listed, please share it with us in the comments below.
Pelvic pain is particularly concerning for many, often described as a heaviness or pressure in the pelvic region. The pain can be sharp or piercing as well. For women, this may be accompanied by menstrual irregularities or intensified menstrual cramps. Urination or defecation may make the pain worse. Pelvic floor dysfunction treatments can be helpful but do avoid Valium suppositories. Many are diagnosed with urinary tract infections when no pathogen is present. Please be cautious about taking an antibiotic for a UTI (urinary tract infection) unless your doctor knows for a fact that you have a verified infection. Antibiotics can rev up benzo withdrawal symptoms, and they harm our gut microbiome. What helps? Working with a professional pelvic floor therapist can be helpful, but be aware that medications may be suggested. Also, some of the exercises requiring the insertion of tools may be overstimulating and cause more pain. Drinking plenty of water can help with bladder issues. Plain cranberry juice has been helpful for some. You may need to change your sexual positions to accommodate the pain. Orgasm in both men and women can exacerbate pelvic or bladder pain. Speak with your partner honestly and openly about any sexual preferences you have. It’s important that we not let learned shame about our elimination and sexual organs/ experiences keep us from being honest and open.
The withdrawal process also plays mind games. Stress and anxiety exacerbate the perception of physical pain, creating a cycle of discomfort that can be hard to break. The experience of withdrawal can tap into the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response, heightening sensitivity to pain as the body is on high alert. What helps? All of the four cornerstones of well-being!
Adopting a holistic approach can be helpful. Some find relief in physical therapies like acupuncture, hydrotherapy, or chiropractic care. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep-breathing exercises, may also offer some reprieve by helping to break the cycle of stress and pain. Gentle massage can also be helpful, as can stretching or gentle walking. Swimming is an excellent way to move the body to help cope with pain. Hot or cold compresses can help, too. Avoid narcotics or GABAergic medications or supportments. Tylenol is better tolerated in the benzo community than Advil or Aleve. Avoid baths with Epsom Salts. Always check to make sure that any prescribed medication won’t work on GABA or run the risk of increasing your symptoms. You can check here for some medications that are known to be revving.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal is an overwhelming experience that manifests in various forms of physical pain. Understanding the multidimensional nature of this discomfort is essential for those undergoing withdrawal, as well as for healthcare providers offering support. The more we understand the physical ramifications of benzo withdrawal, the better equipped we will be to offer effective coping strategies that can ameliorate these difficult symptoms.
By acknowledging the multifaceted pain associated with benzo withdrawal, we can pave the way for more compassionate and comprehensive care for those navigating this challenging journey. If you need help, please feel free to book a coaching session with me or to join my live group coaching group. We’d love to have you!
Add Your Voice
How have you navigated pain during benzo withdrawal/BIND? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts and ideas with us.