"Physiotherapy helps people with long term (chronic) pain develop the skills they need to manage their condition, increase their activity and improve their quality of life."
Chronic pain is often defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. Whereas acute pain is a normal sensation that alerts us to possible injury.
It is helpful to understand the differences between chronic, persistent pain and acute pain.
Acute pain: short-term pains act as an alarm, telling us that something is wrong. While most minor pains are easily treated and quickly forgotten, others are a sign of something more serious that we shouldn't ignore. For example, the pain of a broken leg is helpful because it makes us rest the leg until it heals.
Chronic pain: persistent pain though often serves no useful purpose. The pain messages linked to long-term conditions such as back pain or arthritis are not helpful, and can be annoying and sometimes devastating.
Other health problems, such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, decreased appetite, and mood changes, often accompany chronic pain. Over time, the pain may affect how we function, including our ability to work and our sleep patterns.
The nerve network associated with chronic pain is also linked to those parts of the brain concerned with emotions. So, pain can affect our emotions, and our emotions can affect our pain. If we are angry, depressed or anxious, for example, the pain often feels worse. If we are feeling positive and happy, we may experience less pain and will often be better able to cope.
Pain then is never "just in the mind" or “just in the body”, but a complex mix affecting our whole being.
The relationship between body and mind is complex, so it is important to seek help for any aspect of your condition that you might be struggling with, physical or mental.
How is chronic pain managed?
If your pain persists and becomes chronic then the emphasis might shift more to managing the condition and minimizing its impact on your life, rather than necessarily finding a cure.
Here are 3 tips for you to follow:
1. MAKE A PAIN DIARY / CALENDAR:
This will help you keep track of when you have pain, how bad it is, and whether your treatment is helping. You should record when it happens, what causes it, and what makes it better or worse.
You’ve probably already heard that regular exercise can be beneficial for your health, but that's not all, it could also help ease the pain that your feeling. Exercise causes a release of endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers. 3. CREATE A ROUTINE/ REGULAR SCHEDULE
Creating a routine could help you follow scheduled works automatically on days your brain cannot function. Prepare lunches evening before, pack bags ahead of time, have something that can be grabbed from fridge or reheated. Each day you should have a balance of self-care, leisure, and productivity, and a specific focus should be placed on the one or two key activities that bring a sense of hope and purpose for you.
How can Physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapists often see patients with chronic pain on an individual basis. A specific manual treatment such as massage or soft tissue mobilization may be appropriate, or perhaps acupuncture or dry needling.
However, treatment is more likely to include advice about movement, posture and finding ways of achieving your goals.
A physiotherapist can also identify practical ways to help, like pain management programs which focuses on teaching people how best to cope with pain and how to live a more active life.
If you feel any need to go to a Physical Therapy Rehabilitation, MOVE Physio is here to help you get the most out of your rehab.