Managing Chronic Pain
What is Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is defined as pain experienced for a prolonged period of time, typically well after an initial acute injury. People can experience chronic pain when there is not a clear underlying “pathophysiological” condition. This often leads to uncertainty, emotional distress and the feelings of something must still be injured, the nerves are damaged, or the scans must have missed something. This may be true in some cases, however, what we commonly see, and what a lot of research demonstrates is that pain is not always caused by injuries or pathologies of the body. And since pain is not always a result of tissue damage, it is not always proportional to the severity of damage either.
Why are you Experiencing Pain?
So you might be wondering, why am I still experiencing pain if there is no clear underlying tissue pathology? To explain this, we need to understand what ‘pain’ actually is and why it is felt. Pain was once perceived as a result of tissue injury, or your body’s way of telling you that you have injured something. However, what we now know is that pain is actually an unpleasant sensation produced by the brain when it thinks your body requires protection. Your brain can produce the sensation of pain when it thinks you have a potential tissue injury. Your brain can also produce pain when it thinks something you are doing might lead to tissue damage. These are instances where your brain thinks there is a threat to your body and thus produces pain to signal the need for protection.
Is it Just in My Head?
Now you might be thinking, so you’re saying my pain is just “in my head”? No! The pain you are experiencing is very real and our physiotherapists completely understand this. Your pain is influenced by many factors, and it is our job as physiotherapists to investigate what factors are influencing your pain and making your brain think your body needs protection. And it is our job to work together with you to address these factors.
The Role of your Physiotherapist
Many people live with chronic pain, and not only does it affect their emotional wellbeing, it also impacts their physical wellbeing as pain can limit their participation in physical activity. Physiotherapists are trained in management of chronic pain. We can help improve your pain through various methods such as improving strength, increasing range of motion and providing manual therapy. This may improve your movement capacity and your functional capabilities. Depending on your case, physiotherapists may come up with a treatment plan to facilitate gradual exposure to physical activity as you build up strength and confidence.
Gradually increasing physical activity has profound benefits in reducing your brain’s desire for protection, and thus reducing how much pain it produces. Another important factor in managing chronic pain is conducting assessment of individual lifestyle and psychosocial factors that influence your pain experience. Physiotherapists will provide education and self management strategies for these factors in order to achieve long term results.
We know management of chronic pain can be a long process, but our physiotherapists are here with you along the entire journey and will provide the support you need so you can get back to doing the things that matter to you.
Book an Initial Assessment at My Physio My Health
If you’re experiencing chronic pain, please don’t hesitate to book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists in Holden Hill or Lightsview.