Up to 50 million Americans suffer from chronic or long-term pain. Missing work, the inability to do recreational activities, lack of concentration, and poor mental health are all side effects of living with chronic pain. However, one of the last things pain sufferers want to do may be the most effective treatment for chronic pain: exercise, and more specifically, physical therapy. Physical therapy for pain management can increase strength, mobility, and overall wellness for those suffering from chronic pain.
Doctors consider pain present for more than 12 weeks to be chronic pain. Some of the most common conditions causing chronic pain include:
Physical therapists typically focus on building strength and mobility when treating pain patients. Additionally, a physical therapist may work with patients to find safe, functional movements that don’t aggravate their pain.
How Physical Therapy Treats Pain
Physical therapists work to treat pain and its source. A physical therapist will look for muscle weakness or stiffness in areas that contribute to chronic pain symptoms. Then, they’ll treat your pain with exercises that help you move better and ease the pain.
Most physical therapy sessions include a variety of training methods.
Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises
Your physical therapist may choose an activity like cycling, walking, or swimming to amplify your heart rate, increase your range of motion, and provide fluid to your joints.
Your physical therapist may use low weights, resistance bands, weight machines, and bodyweight exercises (lunges and push-ups) to strengthen foundational muscles like your core or abdominal muscles.
Pain Relief Exercises
Pain relief exercises specifically target the source of your pain. For instance, a patient with knee pain may strengthen their leg muscles to support the joint better.
Gentle stretches are a fundamental part of physical therapy, as specific stretches can help to reduce pain, make muscle contraction more efficient, and work to release entrapped nerves.
Maintaining a consistent exercise routine can also help you retain the ability to move and function properly, rather than letting your pain render you immobile.
Further Pain Support
When meeting with your physical therapist, discuss further treatment options to mitigate your pain. These treatments may include massage, heat and cold therapy, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which many physical therapists offer in-office.
Lack of movement and exercise worsens chronic pain. However, you can take charge of your pain symptoms by working with a physical therapist to build strength and mobility while lessening your chronic pain. Some patients are exploring stem cell therapy for chronic pain to help manage inflammation and pain. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are one specific type of stem cell that has the ability to differentiate into different types of cells. They are essentially the raw materials used to generate new tissues. This new alternative option may help patients manage their chronic pain along with conventional methods. If you are interested in learning more about physical therapy for pain management call us today and speak with. a care coordinator.