Chronic pain is a common condition affecting a quarter of adults in the UK. It doesn’t always respond to conventional medical interventions, so a different approach is often required. We’ll explore how pain management can be aided by physiotherapy and how you can approach an individual course of treatment.
What is chronic pain?
Let’s first look at the difference between two types of pain: acute pain and chronic pain.
- Acute pain acts as the body’s alarm system to notify us that something is wrong. It is our natural response to tissue damage or trauma.
- Chronic pain is a complex condition that persists beyond the normal time expected before recovery and goes beyond a simple nervous system problem.
Chronic pain is a complex condition spanning not only physical but also social and psychological components, which can lead to poor quality of life, loss of independence, and even disability.
What are common causes of chronic pain?
Chronic pain is due to an overactive nervous system sending continuous pain signals to the brain. It can affect most areas of the body, but the lower back, neck, shoulder and knees are most commonly afflicted.
Chronic pain can develop after an injury, a serious infection or, in some cases, surgery. However, some cases of chronic pain can develop without any apparent cause. Chronic pain is also a very common symptom of conditions such as: arthritis, nerve damage, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and shingles.
While pain from an acute injury usually resolves once tissues are healed, the constant, deep ache from chronic pain can extend for months or even years.
How is chronic pain managed?
Treating the underlying condition causing chronic pain is important, but this does not always resolve the chronic pain itself. Chronic pain is now often referred to as a condition in its own right, and the emphasis of treatment shifts more to condition management and minimising its impact rather than finding a cure.
Chronic pain can be managed through a comprehensive treatment plan which may include:
- Massage or acupuncture to relieve pain and help mobilise affected areas
- Gentle exercise such as walking or swimming to retain muscle mass and flexibility
- Physiotherapist-recommended actions concerning movement, posture, and specialist equipment or shoes to help with walking and other daily activities
Some treatments are also offered to reduce pain intensity, such as prescribed medication. It may also be recommended to focus on reducing the impact of the pain on your overall quality of life, by incorporating activities such as relaxation techniques and learning how to improve sleep quality. But can physiotherapy itself help nerve pain?
How can physiotherapy help with chronic pain?
Chronic pain can be mediated by seeking help from a physiotherapist. Physiotherapy focuses on managing the impact of chronic pain and improving your quality of life, rather than trying to cure the root problem.
Physiotherapists treat chronic pain on an individual basis. Your physiotherapist will assess your situation and develop a tailored treatment plan that you’re happy with. Specific manual treatments such as massage or acupuncture may be advised, but more than likely your treatment will include specialist advice about movement and posture.
Physiotherapists can also help you identify practical ways to help your condition, such as ensuring you have the right shoes and correct equipment. You may also be referred to a pain clinic, which will often run as a group session alongside other individuals requiring chronic pain management. Make sure to have regular individual reviews with your physiotherapist, and update them if any aspect of your condition changes.
Chronic pain treatment with Carl Todd Clinics
Chronic pain can significantly impact your wellbeing – physical, emotional and social. Physiotherapy can guide you towards the best possible quality of life, through the use of safe and cost-effective support.
Not sure if we can help you with your chronic pain? Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more information from one of our practitioners. They will be able to evaluate the circumstances around your pain and advise on the best course of action.
What our patients say:
“I had previously had back pain on and off and saw a variety of physios, chiropractors and osteopaths prior to attending the Carl Todd Clinic. Carl was the first person who really helped me, and gave me tools to use going forward. Can highly recommend both Carl and Mel.”– Natasha Browne
“Carl is so supportive, encouraging and positive. Carl is definitely the physio to go to, he’s so knowledgeable and trustworthy, by far the best physio I’ve been to to get you back to full health. Would 100% recommend Carl.”– Clare
“My wife, daughter and I have been using Carl Todd’s clinics for twenty years. There is no hard sell on how many treatments you require, you go until your problem is sorted.”– Jon Richards