How can physiotherapy help with chronic pain?

Chronic pain is a concept that can sometimes be misunderstood. 

By definition, it’s defined as any pain that lasts beyond the normal healing time for an injury, remaining for three months or more. The pain is ongoing, and as a general rule, is experienced most days of the week.

This is where the confusion can lie. It’s not constant pain: instead, it’s the regular and persistent recurrence of the same pain, for an extended period of time.

Chronic pain differs from acute pain. Acute pain is short-lived, usually in direct response to an injury or illness, and disappears once your body has healed.

Think of it like stubbing your toe on a door frame. The short, sharp, immediate pain and shock, and maybe even bruising if you hit it hard enough, will subside over time. That’s acute pain.

But if it’s three months later, and you’re still finding it painful to put on a shoe, or the pain increases after a long time on your feet, that’s chronic pain.

What causes chronic pain?

Pain is an interesting phenomenon. When an injury occurs, your nerves send signals to your brain from the affected part of your body telling it that there’s a problem. These signals are then decoded by the brain as the sensation of pain.

Chronic pain from injury

In some cases, chronic pain can start after an injury. Like a sports injury, or post-surgical rehabilitation, where perhaps the root cause of the injury hasn’t properly healed. Or in cases where the tendons or muscles around the injury work harder to make up for the pain at the injury site, and eventually overwork themselves, causing stress and further pain in the long run. 

Chronic pain from disease

In other cases, chronic pain can be caused by a disease, like endometriosis. Or it can be caused by simple wear and tear on the body, like osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions.

Other causes of chronic pain

There are some cases, too, where the nerves responsible for transmitting these pain signals to the brain—or even the brain itself—don’t follow the rules. Instead of operating the normal way, they show unusual patterns of activity. This can result in your nerves heightening in sensitivity, and your brain then misinterprets these signals as pain.

This is common in cases like sciatica, or lower back pain, where a pinched nerve can cause pain to radiate through different areas of your body.

Chronic pain can also be caused by acute pain that’s left untreated. Take the stubbed toe example. If you went to a doctor and had a check-up, you might be able to fix the pain in a number of weeks. But if you just let it go, assuming it would get better on its own, then the damage and associated pain could progress to a chronic state. 

Chronic pain physiotherapy can help you manage your pain

If you’re living with chronic pain, the best thing to do is see your GP. They can refer you to a specialist who can help you manage your way out of it.

And, in many cases, they will recommend chronic pain physiotherapy as your treatment.

Why? Because in the case of injury, or body wear and tear, chronic pain can be caused by stress on the muscles and joints, with the pain radiating to other parts of your body.

How chronic pain physiotherapy works

At Brecken Health Bunbury, our physiotherapy team can help you manage your chronic pain. 

We start by assessing your condition. This is comprehensive, and takes into account your current condition, medical history, level of pain, and overall physical health. 

We then identify where the pain is occurring, and assess your range of motion to find out what makes it worse, and the techniques you’re using—whether you realise it or not—to make it better.

It’s all about identifying the different factors that point to the root cause of your pain. Then, once we’ve identified it, we can provide you with a treatment plan to help you manage it.

The musculoskeletal conditions—that is, those relating to the bones, muscles, and joints—we treat include, but are not limited to:

  • Post-surgical rehabilitation
  • Low back pain / sciatica
  • Neck pain / headaches
  • Shoulder / hip / knee / ankle pain
  • Sports injuries 
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Muscle strains/spams
  • Lymphoedema
  • Women’s health

Your treatment could include a range of activities, including:

  • Soft tissue massage, to relieve muscle tension
  • Dry needling, to increase blood flow to tight muscles
  • Stretches and corrective exercises to strengthen muscles around the painful area
  • Posture awareness
  • Spinal manipulation and mobilisation

All these activities are designed to take the stress off the muscles, joints, tendons, bones, or nerve endings that are causing you the pain.

If need be, we will also refer you to another health specialist, to ensure you get the complete care and support you need.

We’ll help you treat the cause of your chronic pain

We know that living with chronic pain can be difficult. So at Brecken Health Bunbury, our physiotherapists are experts in treating and managing chronic pain. 

Together, we can help you create the treatment plan you need to manage your way out of your pain, safely and effectively.

Get in touch with us today to book a consultation with one of our chronic pain physiotherapy specialists.