Physiotherapy helps people with long term (chronic) pain develop the skills to manage their condition, increase their activity levels and improve their overall quality of life.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is usually defined as pain that persists beyond the normal time that it takes tissue to heal after an injury. The majority of soft tissue injuries heal within weeks, some however can take several months to fully heal.
If a pain lasts for longer than 3-6 months, it is usually described as “chronic” pain.
Over time, if pain persists it may affect how we function in our daily lives, including our ability to work and sleep, as well as our relationship with others.
The causes of chronic pain are not always clear but in some conditions the pain is thought to be due to the pain signals through the nerve fibres becoming confused. The brain is then unable to understand the signals properly. Chronic pain can affect any part of the body and people of any age, including children.
The nerve network associated with chronic pain is also linked to the parts of the brain concerned with emotions. Pain can affect emotions, and emotions can affect pain. Anger, depression or anxiety, can increases pain. Positivity and happyiness, can decrease the amount of pain experienced. Pain then is never "just in the mind" or “just in the body”, but a complex mix affecting the entire person.
The relationship between body and mind is complex, so it is important to seek help for any aspect of your condition that you might be struggling with, physical or mental.
How is chronic pain managed?
Once pain becomes chronic then management focuses more reducing its impact on the individuals life, as opposed to finding a cure.
Some treatments reduce the intensity of the pain, such as painkillers and other drugs. Other treatments include “hands on” treatments, massage and acupuncture.
Other treatments include learning relaxation techniques, developing goal-setting skills, and learning ways of improving sleep quality.
How Physiotherapy can help
Both you and your Chartered Physiotherapist would agree on a plan. A specific manual treatment such as massage or soft tissue mobilisation may be of use. Treatment would absolutely include information about movement, posture and finding ways of achieving your goals. You would also be given information on posture, positioning, equipment, grading exercise and movement in general.