You hear that you are supposed to stay busy through your chronic pain and believe, “But how? Actions make my pain worse. Getting through the day at work is agony, and today the doctor expects me to perform extra tasks?” This is the point where a physical therapist may help.
Physical therapists can give you a personalized strengthening and workout plan besides helping you learn how to manage your own “daily life” chronic pain symptoms. The physical therapist will do a thorough physical evaluation to assess your chronic pain and its impact. They will also ask about your therapy goals: do you wish to learn how to better handle your pain? What would be helpful to learn from physical therapy? Using that information, the physical therapist will create a therapy plan, especially for you.
Physical Therapy is Active and Passive
Physical therapy includes both active and passive treatments. Passive treatments help to unwind you and your physique. As you don’t need to actively participate, they’re known as passive. Your physical treatment program may begin with passive treatments, but the goal is to get into more active treatments. These are exercises that strengthen your body and help you handle the pain that is chronic.
Passive physical therapy treatments include:
Deep Tissue Massage: This technique targets spasms and chronic muscle strain that perhaps builds up through life stress. You could have spasms or muscular strain because of strains or sprains. The physical therapist uses direct pressure and friction to release the tension in your soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, muscles).
Hot and Cold Therapies: Your physical therapist may alternate between cold and warm therapies. The physical therapist attempts to gain more blood to the target area by applying hot treatment because increased blood circulation brings more oxygen and nutrients to this region. Blood circulation is essential to remove waste byproducts made by muscle spasms, and in addition, it helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic pain. Cold treatment, also called cryotherapy, slows circulation, helping to decrease inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. You might be given an ice pack or an ice massage. Another alternative that is part of cryotherapy is a spray that cools the tissues. After cold therapy, your physical therapist may have you stretch the affected muscles.
TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation): A TENS machine stimulates your muscles through factor (but safe) intensities of electrical current. TENS helps reduce muscle spasms and might increase the body’s production of endorphins, your painkillers. The TENS gear your therapist utilizes is big. But a more compact machine for “at home” use is also available. Whether big or small, a TENS unit may be a very helpful therapy.
Ultrasound: By increasing blood flow, an ultrasound helps decrease pain, numbness, swelling, stiffness, and muscle spasms. It creates heat that enhances circulation, sending sound waves deep into your muscle cells.
During the active portion of physical therapy, your physical therapist will teach you different exercises to increase your flexibility, strength, core stability, and range of motion (how readily your joints move). Remember, your physical therapy program is individualized, considering your medical history and health. Your exercises may not be suitable for another person with chronic pain, especially since pain is a subjective experience.
Other Areas of Physical Therapy
If necessary, you will learn to fix your posture and incorporate ergonomic principles in your daily activities. This is all part of this “self-care” or “self-treatment” aspect of physical therapy. During physical therapy, you learn good habits and principles that let you take better care of your body. Staying active is a significant part of chronic pain therapy. The therapist can help you figure out the best workout for you.
Tips for Exercising When You Have Chronic Pain
Too much of the wrong activity can cause chronic pain to worsen. If jogging or running is out of the question, you may be able to handle and enjoy cycling, which can be easier on painful knees and hips. Other forms of physical therapy, including aerobics done in warm water, help to alleviate inflammation; plus, the buoyancy of the water protects the body against gravity and from movements that may otherwise result in pain. No matter which type of exercise you choose, use caution not to move too fast or too much or do so much that it worsens.
Tips for Exercising When You Have Chronic Pain
- Talk to your doctor before you begin an exercise program.
- Start slowly and gradually increase your efforts as you gain strength, flexibility, and confidence.
- Move at your own pace. Never try to keep up with a class or a group if doing so is painful.
- Exercise every day, if possible.
- Strive for a balanced routine of cardiovascular, strengthening, and stretching exercises.
- Accept that you can do more on some days than others.
- Be patient with your progress. Overexertion makes the pain worse and can strain muscles.
A person’s sleep patterns are improved by exercise. When curative sleep patterns improve, chronic pain symptoms usually do too. Physically active individuals sleep longer and more deeply than people that are sedentary. Exercise also helps relieve sleep apnea, a common disruptive sleep disorder that abruptly stops breathing.
Additional Topics: Wellness
Overall, health and wellness are essential for maintaining the proper mental and physical balance in the body. From eating balanced nutrition, exercising, and participating in physical activities to sleeping a healthy amount of time regularly, following the best health and wellness tips can ultimately help maintain overall well-being. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can go a long way toward helping people become healthy.
The information herein on "Physical Therapy for Chronic Pain: Injury Medical Chiropractic" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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