Physical Therapy Can Help Manage Pain so You Can Reclaim Your Life
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts three months or longer. This type of pain can be caused by a number of factors, including spinal arthritis, aging, disc issues, and myofascial pain syndrome.
Spinal arthritis causes pain due to the slow thinning of the cartilage inside the spine. Compression around your surrounding nerves may occur with a herniated or bulging disc, resulting in pain.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spine that can cause nerve pain. You may experience unknown muscle tenderness and pain if you have myofascial pain syndrome.
Whatever the cause of your chronic pain, it does not have to be a daily occurrence – contact Moon Physical Therapy to learn more.
What should I know about chronic pain?
As stated by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,
“While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years.
There may have been an initial mishap – sprained back, serious infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain – arthritis, cancer, ear infection, but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage. Many chronic pain conditions affect older adults.
Common chronic pain complaints include headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves or to the central nervous system itself), psychogenic pain (pain not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside or outside the nervous system).
A person may have two or more co-existing chronic pain conditions. Such conditions can include chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and vulvodynia. It is not known whether these disorders share a common cause.”
Chronic pain affects every person differently. In many cases, the pain continues long after the body is healed from the injury or surgery.
The good news is that physical therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach to pain relief. Your physical therapist has many tools and techniques at their disposal to help relieve and overcome chronic pain.
Chronic pain has a number of symptoms associated with it, apart from the fact that it lasted more than three months.
Here are some of the symptoms commonly associated with chronic aches and pain:
- Increased weight: People with chronic pain may put on too much weight, which can lead to a host of added problems, from diabetes to heart disease.
- Stiffness: Muscles and joints may feel stiffer when suffering from chronic pain.
- Avoiding activities: People with chronic pain become fearful of normal activities. The fear of additional pain can cause people to withdraw from normal physical activities that they enjoy.
- Decreased circulation: Remaining inactive due to chronic pain reduces your circulation, which means your cells are not receiving a healthy amount of blood and oxygen. This can cause tissues to degenerate and leads to feelings of constant fatigue.
- Decreased activity: Inactivity due to chronic pain can cause your muscles to weaken and shrink. This can have profound physical effects over time, such as impacting your sense of balance.
How can a physical therapist manage my chronic pain?
If your back pain is the result of spinal stenosis or a bulging disc, a physical therapist may recommend a targeted movement program to alleviate numbness, pain, or weakness. McKenzie exercises and other progressive movement exercises may be included in your physical therapy program to treat a variety of causes of chronic back pain.
Deep muscle retraining exercises such as stabilization exercises may also be included. In order to stabilize the spine, your physical therapist will also show you how to use the proper spinal and abdominal muscles before beginning any exercise. Manipulation is another technique for treating chronic back pain that involves targeting the affected joint(s) in question to reduce pain and increase mobility.
Physical therapists also employ a variety of passive modalities to treat chronic back pain. Heat and cold therapy can be used to improve blood flow, decrease inflammation, and alleviate pain. Another common passive modality used by physical therapists is ultrasound, which incorporates deep heating sound waves that penetrate soft tissue. Not only does this method relieve back pain, but it also aids in the healing of the affected area.
Your physical therapist may also recommend a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit. This unit helps to overcome the painful signals sent to the brain and can be used both for short and long-term treatments.
Another prevalent treatment for chronic back pain is deep tissue massage. This manual method improves healing by increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the affected area(s), while also reducing muscle spasms and stiffness.
According to the NCBI, “In chronic low back without serious pathology, recommended primary conservative physical treatment preferences include exercise, yoga, biofeedback, progressive relaxation, massage, manual therapy, physical therapy, and interdisciplinary rehabilitation. A recent literature review with meta-analysis in patients with chronic lower back pain found moderate- to high-quality evidence that McKenzie exercises in physical therapy were superior to other rehabilitation interventions in reducing pain and disability.”
Get back to the activities you love with physical therapy
If you’re living with chronic pain, it’s time to take action: Schedule an appointment for a physical therapy evaluation today! Your physical therapist will collaborate with your doctor to create a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific condition.
You will be on the road to pain reduction or even elimination with our active and passive treatment methods. Our goal is to help you move about your daily life with reduced or no pain in your regular activities!