Chronic pain is not only a physical condition, it can take a toll on your emotional health and well-being. It affects every part of your life, keeping you from enjoying your daily physical activities. Fortunately, physical therapy has been clinically proven to dramatically improve your body’s ability to function without pain. Call us today to find out more about what physical therapists do to eliminate chronic pain.
What is Chronic Pain?
Pain is an indicator of an injury to a muscle, tendon, bone, or nerve. Any time you are injured, pain signals travel from the nerves near the injury to your spinal cord and brain. Usually, once the injury begins to heal, the pain signals stop. Chronic pain occurs when your body keeps sending pain signals to your brain, sometimes long after the injury has healed. It can last several weeks, several years or even a lifetime. Chronic pain may be dull or intermittent, sharp or steady. It affects every person’s ability to move differently and can make it difficult to engage in normal tasks such as walking, running, standing, dressing, driving, or even working.
Are there Different Types of Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain affects more than 1 billion people worldwide. While it can originate from an injury such as a car accident or slip and fall, other types of pain are associated with illness or other medical conditions.
How Can you Treat Chronic Pain?
One of the fastest ways to relieve acute pain from an injury is to prescribe an anti-inflammatory or other pain medication. While these medications offer short-term relief, many people are find themselves dependent on them even after short-term use. That is why prescription medications are not often prescribed for chronic pain. There are better options for treating this type of pain that does not create dependency or further limit your function. Physical therapy’s primary goal is to increase your flexibility, function and strength gradually, while reducing your overall pain. Some specific treatment options that may be used include:
- Deep Tissue Massage – By applying direct pressure to specific areas, a physical therapist can relieve tension in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
- Hot and Cold Treatments – Hot treatments will bring more oxygen and blood to the injured areas, relieve tension in muscles, and provide temporary relief from pain. Cold therapies can reduce muscle spasms and inflammation. Physical therapists often alternate between them to gain the benefits of both.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – TENS uses fluctuating electrical current to alternately contract and relax painful areas of soft tissue. Not only does this therapy increase the natural endorphins throughout the body, it can reduce pain related to several chronic conditions.
- Ultrasound – While heat applied to an area temporarily relieves tension, ultrasound goes deep into the muscle or joint to improve blood circulation and healing. When used with targeted exercise, ultrasound therapy increases flexibility, breaks up scar tissue and improves function.
Physical Therapy and Chronic Pain
Whether your chronic pain is from an illness, medical condition, old injury, or recent problem, physical therapy can play a vital role in alleviating your discomfort. It begins with a personalized consultation. Our physical therapists will perform a comprehensive exam and uncover the root cause of your ongoing pain. This may include review of diagnostic imaging, functional testing, and communication with your physicians. Armed with this information, your physical therapist will begin to create a customized therapy plan to address your needs.