Physical Therapy for Acute and Chronic Pain Management
Acute pain can last hours, days, weeks or longer. Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than several months, variously defined as 3 to 6 months or longer than “normal healing” for a given diagnosis or condition. It’s a common problem.
Recent clinical studies suggest the following:
- About 25.3 million U.S. adults (11.2 percent) had pain every day for the previous 3 months.
- Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) had severe pain.
- Individuals with severe pain had worse health, used more health care, and had more disability than those with less severe pain.
- Physical therapy and other natural treatments are proven effective at managing both acute and chronic pain.
What Types of Conditions Sometimes Result in Pain?
People can suffer with pain in a number of areas of the body. We commonly provide physical therapy and other conservative treatments for patients that have pain as a result of musculoskeletal conditions, accidents, post-surgical conditions, neurologic entrapment syndromes, and neuropathies. The following are some examples:
- Headaches caused by severe myofascial restriction effecting the head, neck and upper body, and postural syndromes and work-related activities
- Neck pain caused by car accidents, postural syndromes, work-related activity
- Shoulder pain as a result of arthritis, injury or surgical repair
- Lower back pain caused by car accidents, lifting injuries, slip-and-falls, failed surgical interventions, and other orthopedic diagnosis
- Hip pain as a result of osteoarthritis or injury
- Knee pain as a result of osteoarthritis, strains and sprains and other orthopedic musculoskeletal injuries, and sports injuries
Problems Associated with Pain
Patients that are experiencing pain often have some or all of the following:
- Fear of performing daily activities and pacing activities correctly
- Tightness and stiffness, loss of strength and stamina
- Potential for an increased use of pain pills
- New or worsening conditions
- Circulation problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Family and other psychosocial barriers
How Physical Therapy Can Help
Physical therapy treatment provided by licensed physical therapists can help pain patients in the following ways:
Hands-on treatment - soft tissue mobilization/ manipulation and other techniques are effective ways to help decrease pain and increase mobility. Graded exercise programs will improve your strength and endurance making it easier to move through your day without pain. Physical Therapy can improve daily activities like getting out of a chair or a car, climbing stairs, walking long distances, performing all work activities, and leisure activities. These are daily activities that a graded exercise program, ergonomic and body mechanic training, and injury prevention strategies provided by a physical therapist, will help you return to functional wellness at home, work, and play.
Patient education - as part of the physical therapy treatment plan, physical therapists help pain patients understand that pain is complex involving more than damaged muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joint tissues. Emotions, depression, anxiety, nervous system hypersensitivity, tissue damage, and pain caused in the brain are all components of chronic pain that may be addressed by a licensed physical therapist.
Posture and body mechanics instructions - understanding how to properly lift, sit, bend, reach, and perform specific daily activities at home, work and play can help decrease pain, improve mobility and prevent future injuries. Moreover, progressively recovering normal movements through physical therapist supervised stretching and strengthening can assist in the return to normal daily activities.