Chronic Pain Relief
When an injury occurs, pain signals are sent from the injured area along the spinal cord and then to the brain. As the injury begins to heal, pain usually becomes less severe. However, chronic pain is different. The body continues to send pain signals to the brain, even if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last several weeks to several years. It limits mobility and makes it very challenging to get through daily tasks and participate in normal activities. Chronic pain may feel dull or sharp and be steady or intermittent. In addition, it can occur in any part of the body.
Common types of chronic pain include lower back pain, arthritis pain and neurogenic pain. Usually, chronic pain is caused by an injury, such as a pulled muscle or back sprain. Many medical professionals feel that chronic pain develops from damaged nerves. And chronic pain affects more than 1 billion people in the world. It’s quite a global problem.
Physical Therapy and Chronic Pain
Since chronic pain comes in many forms, it’s important that a treatment plan is personalized. Physical therapy is personalized. A physical therapist will do a comprehensive exam to assess the root cause of chronic pain. Using that information, a physical therapist will customize an individualized therapy plan. Physical therapy services are comprised of passive and active treatments. Active treatments are things like therapeutic exercises. Passive treatments are ones where the patient does not actively participate.
Examples of passive treatments include deep tissue massage, hot and cold treatments, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and ultrasound. With deep tissue massage, a physical therapist uses direct pressure to release tension in muscles, tendons and ligaments. Physical therapists also alternate between hot and cold therapies. With heat therapy, more blood and oxygen are brought to the affected area. With cold therapy, inflammation and muscle spasms are reduced. TENS stimulates the muscles and increases endorphins to reduce pain. Ultrasound increases blood circulation and reduces chronic pain. Passive therapies are usually done hand-in-hand with active therapies.
In addition, physical therapists teach patients how to incorporate ergonomic principles into daily life. They may also recommend a personalized home exercise program as part of pain management. The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain, and to increase strength flexibility gradually. It is also intended to manage pain, sustain long-term recovery and prevent the future recurrence of pain.
A physical therapist works closely with the patient in goal setting. Patients and physical therapists work out a goal-setting chart for activities, record progress and note any difficulties. This way, progress can be monitored and changes can be made when necessary. Physical therapists incorporate behavioral and cognitive principles into rehabilitation for chronic pain. It’s a collaborative approach to chronic pain. The process of overcoming chronic pain can be long and complex. Rehabilitation involves overcoming physical obstacles, and physical therapists play an important role in chronic pain management. They help patients address obstacles with chronic pain and provide support.