Physiotherapy for Chronic Pain: What to Expect?
Physiotherapy is often one of the best choices you can make when you have long-term pain (also called chronic pain) or an injury. It can make you stronger and help you move and feel better.
Chronic pain is one example of this complex pain experience. Chronic pain is pain that has persisted for more than 3 months, with no identifiable cause to the pain or not responding to treatment or medications.
Persistent and unresolved pain often results in:
General weakness and fatigue
Loss of fitness
Tense/tight muscles, reduced flexibility
Reduce the quality of life
Management of chronic pain requires a multi-disciplinary bio-psycho-social approach.
Physiotherapist work as part of the multi-disciplinary team to help patients with chronic pain by:
Educating patients about pain
Modification of unhelpful beliefs and responses
Understanding about neuroplasticity and pain
Improve their physical fitness using graded exercise and activities
Reverse the negative effects of inactivity
Empowering patients to adopt a more active role in managing their pain
Ask your doctor to recommend the nearest physiotherapy center or hospital. You'll probably need a series of visits, and you should practice some of the exercises at home for the best results.
A physiotherapist has a lot of training. Still, it’s a good idea to ask them about their experience of working with people who've had conditions like yours. You can also ask them how many sessions you'll need.
How Does Physiotherapy Treat Pain?
A physiotherapist is experts not only in treating pain, but also its source. Yours will look for areas of weakness or stiffness that may be adding stress to the places that hurt. And they will treat those areas with certain exercises to ease pain and help you move better.
In a physiotherapy session, you may do a mix of:
Low-impact aerobic training. These workouts will rev up your heart rate and still take it easy on your joints. For instance, you might walk fast or use a stationary bike to warm up, instead of running, before you do your strengthening exercises.
Strengthening exercises. You might use machines at your physical therapist’s office, resistance bands, or your own body weight (think lunges, squats, and pushups). You may work on your core muscles (belly, glutes, and back), as well as other parts of your body.
Pain relief exercises. These moves target areas where you have pain, so you're stronger and more flexible -- which should make it easier to live your life.
Stretching. This will be gentle, and your therapist will make sure that you've warmed up and you don’t stretch too far.
Your physiotherapist may prescribe exercises for you to do at home.
What Else Might I Do?
During your sessions, your therapist may also use:
Heat and ice packs. Ice calms inflammation. The heat warms up your muscles so they move better. Both can help with the pain.
Electrotherapy Modalities. Are used to assist pain reduction and the natural healing response via an increase in energy (electrical, sound, light, magnetic, temperature).
Electrotherapy and local modalities have short-term benefits that can assist with the earlier introduction of other longer-lasting techniques such as exercise prescription.