How can Physiotherapy help with Chronic Pain Management?
Pain is a warning system from our brain to tell us that something is “not quite right” and action may be required to avoid potential tissue damage. For example, if you accidentally put your hand on a hotplate, you will instantaneously feel pain because your brain is telling you to take your hand off the plate to avoid burning it. This analogy applies to all aches and pains that we see in our clinic and your brain is telling you that something needs to be done to prevent potential tissue damage. Whilst most people who develop pain will experience a resolution of pain within a few weeks, some people’s pain continues to linger. When their pain continues for more than three months, this is referred to as chronic pain.
Chronic pain is often a complex presentation. Most patients will struggle to nominate any specific ways they can relieve their pain without medication use. They will often report that activities that should not be painful can actually be quite painful, but then some activities that they believe should be painful might not be. This is due to the non-linear relationship between the warning messages the brain outputs and the amount of pain we feel. This is particularly highlighted in chronic pain sufferers, and this mismatch occurs due to many different physical, mental and emotional factors.
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment strategy for chronic pain sufferers. Treatment modalities include manual therapy, massage, dry needling, electrotherapy and exercise therapy. Exercise therapy is extremely important for chronic pain sufferers as it allows patients to gradually improve their strength, flexibility, motor control and confidence that have been gradually reduced while they have been in pain. There are various types of exercises that can effectively treat chronic pain, and your physiotherapist will discuss each option with you to ensure it is the best option for you. As well as exercise therapy, education is important. Our physiotherapists will ensure that you understand your pain and will give you several strategies on how you can reduce your pain at home.
Individual programs can be set up to suit that person’s needs.
What are the components of a chronic pain management plan?
Daily – exercise program at home as prescribed by the physiotherapist. Use of TENS machine or high powered magnets. Both of these can be used daily. TENS is used when pain is high. Magnets can be used constantly if pain is that severe. Heat and Cold therapy.
Weekly – Attend exercise programs at the clinic. This may be Pilates based or could involve hydrotherapy. Warm water exercises are excellent for chronic pain management. These classes are probably best attended 2 to 3 times per week. They will also include an element of relaxation. Music is used to help improve mood and decrease anxiety. Anxiety is a big problem in those with chronic pain.
Fortnightly – Physiotherapists use acupuncture for chronic pain management. This is called Dry Needling. There has been good evidence to support the use of dry needling in chronic pain.
Monthly – Physiotherapy appointments to asses and treat structures relating to pain. It is well known that pain is reduced merely for the fact that the client is doing something about it!
Massage – massage has been used over the centuries to promote relaxation. This decreased anxiety, tension and pain. Massage also promotes circulation which can be used to decrease pain.
Contact Graceville Physio for Chronic Pain Management
If you experience chronic, ongoing pain, don’t suffer in silence any longer. Our priority is helping you manage pain to ultimately lead a pain-free life! Contact us today for more information.