Pain. A word that is challenging to define as it means different things to different people. What is unbearably painful for one person, can be tolerable for another. Persistent or chronic pain prevents millions of Americans from doing the things they enjoy each year. It is the number one cause of long-term disability in the U.S. and can lead to depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and reduced quality of life.
Pain is our body’s way of warning us that something isn’t right. Tissue damage often causes a sudden onset of acute pain. Persistent or chronic pain, however, is less about tissue damage and is usually caused by anillness or disease and may not even have an apparent cause. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts beyond the average time it takes for tissue repair (approximately 12 weeks).
Historically, chronic, persistent pain was treated through rest and inactivity. However, research now shows that chronic pain can be reduced and physical function improved, through exercise.
Many people fail to realize that there is a way to reduce chronic pain without surgery. The recommended treatment goes against what many people naturally do when in pain, which involves avoiding the activities that cause pain and instead encourages mobility.
Physical therapy is one of the most effective treatments for chronic pain. It is more than merely doing the right exercises to improve strength. A skilled physical therapist will work to identify the source of the pain as well as any areas of weakness. They then introduce a treatment program that becomes progressively challenging as mobility improves. The recommended treatments will often include low-impact aerobic exercise, strengthening exercises, and stretching. Physical therapists also provide essential education so patients can better understand how much pain is acceptable. While it is not good to ignore pain, it is important for sufferers to understand it, so they know how to respond to it appropriately.
Staying mobile is key to managing pain. Don’t fear pain. Instead, use it as a tool to understand your body, your capabilities, and your limitations. Seek the help of a trained physical therapist to learn how to introduce exercise into your lifestyle safely. For more information and exercise tips, visit our Facebook page.
If you are tired of living with pain, schedule an appointment with one of our Central Oregon physical therapists today.