You hear that you are supposed to stay busy through your chronic pain and you believe, “But how? Actions make my pain worse. Just getting through the day at work is agony, and today the doctor expects me to perform extra tasks?” This is the point where a physical therapist may help.
How can a physical therapist help with my chronic pain?
Physical therapists can give you a personalized strengthening and workout plan, besides helping you learn how to manage your own “daily life” chronic pain symptoms. The physical therapist will do a thorough physical evaluation to assess your chronic pain and its impact. They will also ask about your therapy goals: do you wish to learn how to better handle your pain? What would be helpful to learn from physical therapy? Using that information, the physical therapist will create a therapy plan especially for you.
Physical Therapy is Active and Passive
Physical therapy includes both active and passive treatments. Passive treatments help to unwind you and your physique. As you don’t need to actively participate, they’re known as passive. Your physical treatment program may begin with treatments that are passive, but the goal is to get into treatments that are more active. These are exercises which strengthen your body and help you handle the pain that is chronic.
Passive physical therapy treatments include:
Deep Tissue Massage: This technique targets spasms and chronic muscle strain that perhaps builds up through life stress. You could have spasms or muscular strain because of strains or sprains. The physical therapist uses direct pressure and friction to attempt to release the tension in your soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, muscles).
Hot and Cold Therapies: Your physical therapist may alternate between cold and warm therapies. The physical therapist attempts to gain more blood to the target area by applying hot treatment because an increased blood circulation brings more oxygen and nutrients to this region. Blood circulation is essential to remove waste byproducts made by muscle spasms, and in addition, it helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic pain. Cold treatment, also called cryotherapy, slows circulation, helping to decrease inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. You might be given an ice pack or even be given an ice massage. Another alternative that is part of cryotherapy is a spray which cools the tissues. After cold therapy, your physical therapist may have you stretch the affected muscles.
TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation): A TENS machine stimulates your muscles through factor (but safe) intensities of electrical current. TENS helps reduce muscle spasms, and it might increase the own body’s production of endorphins, your pain killers. The TENS gear your therapist utilizes is big. But a more compact machine for “at home” use is also available. Whether big or small, a TENS unit may be a very helpful therapy.
Ultrasound: By increasing blood flow, an ultrasound helps decrease pain, numbness, swelling, stiffness, and muscle spasms. It does this by creating heat that enhances circulation, sending sound waves deep in your muscle cells.
At the active portion of physical therapy, your physical therapist will teach you different exercises to increase your flexibility, strength, core stability, and range of motion (how readily your joints move). Remember, your physical therapy program is individualized, taking under account medical history and your health. Your exercises may not be suitable for another person with chronic pain, especially since pain is such a subjective, personal experience.
Other Areas of Physical Therapy
You will learn to fix your posture and incorporate ergonomic principles in your daily activities, if necessary. This is all part of this “self-care” or “self-treatment” aspect of physical therapy. During physical therapy, you learn good habits and principles that let you take better care of your body. Staying active is an significant part chronic pain therapy. The therapist can help you figure out the best kind of workout for you.
7 Tips for Exercising When You Have Chronic Pain
Too much of the wrong activity can cause chronic pain to worsen. If jogging or running are out of the question, you may be able to handle and enjoy cycling, which can be easier on painful knees and hips. Other forms of physical therapy, including aerobics done in warm water, help to alleviate inflammation; plus the buoyancy of the water protects the body against the stress of gravity and from movements that may otherwise result in pain. No matter which type of exercise you choose, use caution not to move too fast or too much, or do so much that it becomes worse.
7 Tips for Exercising When You Have Chronic Pain
- Talk to you doctor before you begin an exercise program.
- Start slowly and gradually increase your efforts as you gain strength, flexibility, and confidence.
- Move at your own pace. Never try to keep up with a class or a group if doing so is painful.
- Exercise every day, if possible.
- Strive for a balanced routine of cardiovascular, strengthening, and stretching exercise.
- Accept that you will be able to do more on some days than others.
- Be patient with your progress. Overexertion makes pain worse and can strain muscles.
A person’s sleep patterns are improved by exercise. When curative sleep patterns improve, chronic pain symptoms usually do too. Physically active individuals sleep longer and more deeply than people that are sedentary. Exercise also helps to relieve sleep apnea, a common disruptive sleep disorder that that abruptly stops the breath..
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Wellness
Overall health and wellness are essential towards maintaining the proper mental and physical balance in the body. From eating a balanced nutrition as well as exercising and participating in physical activities, to sleeping a healthy amount of time on a regular basis, following the best health and wellness tips can ultimately help maintain overall well-being. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can go a long way towards helping people become healthy.
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