Living with chronic pain is challenging, both physically and mentally. Thankfully there are conservative measures, such as physical therapy, that can assist in restoring function.
Symptoms of chronic pain include pain that is present for longer than 3 months. Chronic pain symptoms include joint and/or muscle pain, fatigue, difficulty with sleeping, possible burning sensation, lack of energy, decreased flexibility, and mood problems.
Pain is first detected by the body through sensory nerves and is then processed in the brain. When pain is described as “acute”, signals of pain that travel to the brain typically stop once the cause of pain is resolved. When you experience pain for longer than 3 months, the over stimulation of the sensory nerves eventually can cause changes to how the pain is being processed in your brain. This repeated stimulation causes the nervous system to become more sensitive to the pain and thus the brain’s perception of the pain becomes heightened. This phenomenon is termed chronic pain.
Chronic pain can be caused by various diagnoses, including back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, trauma with surgery, and advanced cancer.
Your physical therapist will begin the evaluation process by asking various questions regarding the history of your symptoms, how the symptoms are affecting your daily life, and which activities you would like to get back to doing. Your therapist will perform a comprehensive analysis of your mobility, strength, sensation, and functional activities to determine the most appropriate treatment program.
Treatment and Exercises
After a thorough review and evaluation of your symptoms, your physical therapist will create an individualized program aimed to manage and reduce your pain. The program will likely include hands on massage, stretching, and instruction of strengthening and flexibility exercises that will assist in relief.