Chronic pain, which is defined as pain that lasts for several months, or in some cases, years, affects at least 116 million Americans each year. Physical therapists play an important role in managing chronic pain by administering treatments that include strengthening and flexibility exercises, manual therapy, posture awareness, and body mechanics instruction.
Chronic pain is a condition that occurs when the brain concludes there is a threat to a person’s well-being based on the many signals it receives from the body. This condition can and often does occur independently of any actual body tissue damage (due to injury or illness), and beyond normal tissue healing time.
The causes of chronic pain vary widely from person to person. While any condition can lead to chronic pain, there are certain medical conditions more likely to cause chronic pain. These include:
- Repetitive trauma and/or tension related pain
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Limb amputation
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Some diseases, such as cancer and arthritis, cause ongoing pain. With chronic pain, however, pain is created in the nervous system even after physical tissues have healed.
Signs and Symptoms
Research finds the following signs may be associated with a chronic pain syndrome:
- It is easy to begin to fear increased pain when you have a chronic pain condition. Sometimes even the most mundane tasks might seem monumental to overcome. As a result, you may begin to avoid activity.
- Body Stiffness
- Sometimes chronic pain can cause body stiffness when you try to become more active. Stiffness may make you feel as if your body is less able to perform daily activities.
- Not moving your body results in less tolerance when you want to become more active. If you are inactive for a long time, muscles weaken and shrink from not being used. This can also increase your risk of falling.
- Decreased Circulation
- Lack of activity decreases the circulation of much-needed blood to your cells. Tissues in your body may not get as much oxygen as they need. As a result, they may not be as healthy as they can be. This can cause you to feel fatigued.
- Weight Gain and/or a Worsening of Other Conditions
- Decreased activity can lead to unwanted weight gain. Added pounds and inactivity can aggravate symptoms of other conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Chronic pain conditions are also commonly associated with feelings of anxiety or depression.
- Increased Use of Medication
- Chronic pain patients can have the tendency to increase their medication over time to seek relief.
Physical therapy plays a vital role in helping patients manage and overcome chronic pain. Synergy Physical Therapists use a variety of evidence-guided treatments to deal with patients suffering from chronic pain. Synergy Physical Therapist has been treating chronic pain patients for over 30 years. They use techniques that are designed to provide relief to chronic pain patients or at a minimum not intensify the pain during treatment. Synergy Physical Therapists use a low and slow method that allows for a gradual effective increase in the intensity of active exercises. Synergy Physical Therapist also educate patients on how the brain and central nervous system hypersensitivity contributes to their chronic pain.