What is chronic pain?
Pain is the body's normal reaction to an illness or injury. Pain is designed to let you know whenever something is wrong. Typically, when the body has healed, the pain will subside, and things should return to normal. However, in some cases, the brain can continue to send out pain signals long after the illness or injury is gone. If you have pain that lasts from 3 to 6 months or more, you could be dealing with chronic pain. When a person has been hurting day after day, it is common to experience not only physical pain but emotional distress as well. Luckily, physical therapy is ideal for treating chronic pain symptoms. This safe and non-invasive pain relief method is designed to target the root cause of your pain quickly and without the use of prescription medication. Be sure to contact our physical therapist today to learn more about the benefits of physical therapy for chronic pain.
Why do I have chronic pain?
Most cases of chronic pain stem from the musculoskeletal system. This includes your muscles, joints, bones, and connective tissues. Chronic pain can appear in the form of back pain, joint pain, nerve pain, or headaches. It most commonly occurs due to one of the following causes:
- Overuse Injuries
Overuse injuries are very common, and they can occur in any part of the body that is used repetitively in your day-to-day life. For example, the way you stand, walk, work, and exercise can all take a toll on your body. It results in overuse injuries if you are not using proper techniques. This can result in damage to your joints and muscles, thus causing chronic pain. Physical therapy can help you learn how to properly move your body in your everyday life, in order to avoid these issues.
Any accident can lead to chronic pain, whether it occurs in an automobile, workplace, or even in your own home. According to a 2016 statistic found by OSHA, workplace injuries happen to approximately 2.9 out of every 100 employees. Additionally, a study published in a journal called Pain determined that 21% of people involved in motor vehicle accidents develop chronic widespread pain in the weeks following their accident. This pain does not go away on its own but seeking the help of a physical therapist can help alleviate it.
Surgical procedures are sometimes unavoidable. While they may be necessary for alleviating certain conditions you are facing, the recovery period can be just as painful. Surgical repair of an area of the body is enough to correct a structural problem, but we often compensate in our movement for the pain we experience. Weeks, months, or even years of compensatory movement often causes additional pain after surgery if the movement is not corrected. Physical therapy offers post-surgical rehabilitation services that can help speed up recovery time, relieve pain, and reduce the risk of chronic pain in the future.
There are many diseases that can lead to chronic pain, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, shingles, neuropathy as a result of diabetes, and more. These can all result in chronic pain, which can be alleviated through physical therapy treatments.
Common Causes of Chronic Pain
Research shows that nearly 80 percent of all adults will experience chronic pain at some point in their lives. In the majority of cases, chronic pain symptoms occur in the musculoskeletal system. Chronic pain can be caused by a number of different conditions and injuries including the normal aging process, workplace injuries, compression fractures and much more. Some of the most common causes of chronic pain include:
Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons that patients seek medical advice each year in the United States. Many people may experience a back injury as a result of a workplace injury, sports injury or due to a degenerative disease like sciatica. Low back pain can make it difficult to complete everyday tasks and if left untreated could lead to more severe health complications.
Studies also suggest that more than 90 percent of American adults have reported a history of headaches. With chronic headaches, it is common to experience a headache that can last anywhere from 2 weeks and up to 3 consecutive months. Typically, tension headaches are the result of stress but other common causes for chronic headaches can include eyestrain, nervous system triggers, enlarged blood vessels and more.
One of the most common reasons that patients visit our physical therapist each day is due to chronic pain associated with joint pain. In many cases, chronic joint pain is the result of the natural aging process, but it can also be caused by injury, illness or some type of infection. Some of the most common causes of joint pain include rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis, inflammation and repetitive motion injuries.
Nerve pain can result from a variety of different issues but typically stems from some sort of musculoskeletal condition. Anytime that the nerves in your body become damages, strained or compressed they can cause acute or long-lasting pain symptoms. Common conditions that can result in chronic nerve pain include sciatica, diabetic neuropathy, degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel syndrome and postherpetic neuralgia.
How can physical therapy relieve chronic pain?
Physical therapy is often associated with post-surgical procedures; however, it can also be used to treat a variety of conditions, including chronic pain. It is true that physical therapy can help decrease scar tissue and shorten the time spent recovering after surgery. However, one of the main goals of physical therapy is pain relief, which can be applied to any source of pain, whether it is post-operative or not.
Physical therapists are highly trained movement experts who can diagnose physical problems and any underlying structural causes surrounding those problems. They conduct thorough physical evaluations with each of their patients, analyze weak areas of the body, focus on places with limited range of motion, and look for any imbalances in gait or standing. All of this helps them identify the underlying causes of your chronic pain.
Once the evaluation is complete, your physical therapist will create a treatment plan unique to your specific needs. This may include targeted exercise to increase strength, stretching to improve balance, or manual therapy to relieve pain, decrease scar tissue, and improve movement. Your treatment plan will incorporate in-clinic treatments, as well as at-home treatments to ensure that you are remaining healthy and active at all times.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you or a loved one is living with chronic pain, physical therapy provides a safe, effective and prescription drug-free healing option that is ideal for people of all ages. Don't let one more day pass where you are limited by your chronic pain symptoms. Instead, call our offices today to schedule an appointment and learn more about how a tailored physical therapy program can help you start on the road to recovery!