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What Can Physical Therapy Do for Chronic Pain?

November 19th, 2015 3:10pm

What Can Physical Therapy Do for Chronic Pain?

Exercise and physical activity is often the last thing someone wants to do if they are experiencing pain. When an individual is living in chronic pain, they often adapt their lifestyle habits over a period of months, or even years, to include as little physical activity as possible for fear of creating more pain. These behaviors only facilitate continuation of the cycle of chronic pain.

If It Hurts, Don't Move...Right?

The body is designed to move, not to be a stationary object. When the body is mostly sedentary, or only using small movements to complete their daily tasks, it will then become stiff and weak. This only creates more discomfort. This leads to a change in the biomechanics used to perform everyday movements, which can put additional stress on already injured joints.

How Does Physical Therapy Help?

There is a place for physical therapy in the treatment of chronic pain. Treatment should be administered by a physical therapist that has experience working with individuals who have chronic pain. At the onset of treatment, exercise and activity are performed at a very low level and progressed very slowly in a deliberate and graded manner, as to avoid increasing the patient’s pain level. The patient does not progress from a basic exercise until mastering this phase with no increase in pain. During this time, the individual is educated on posture and correct biomechanics with everyday tasks. Treatment will focus on the active component of care and limit passive modalities, although passive modalities can be helpful during flares of pain.

In my experience, the patients that I have treated who suffered from chronic pain and completed their physical therapy program were functioning better at the end treatment and had no more pain than when they started. Oftentimes, patients have reported less pain upon treatment conclusion.

Written By: Reanna Reich PT, DPT

The advice and information provided herein is for educational purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.


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