When you have long-term pain, physical therapy is one of the most beneficial treatment options. It can not only make you feel stronger, but can promote a more positive outlook on your life and how pain affects your daily lifestyle.
Physical therapy teaches people how to move safely and in ways they haven’t been able to for years. Chronic pain patients have muscle weakness from not moving and physical therapy focuses key components including:
- Patient education such as posture and maintaining an active lifestyle
- Exercises including aerobic, strengthening, stretching, and fine motor control
- Manual therapy like massage, joint mobilization, and physical manipulation
Physical Therapy for Treating Pain
Exercise may not be your first choice when looking at your pain management options. However, it may be one of the most effective. Physical therapy can be very effective for chronic musculoskeletal and neuropathic types of pain.
Physical therapy is used to help relieve chronic pain sources including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic headaches
- Neuropathic pain
For each of these pain conditions, there is a variety of treatment options. Physical therapists create individualized treatment plans for each patient depending on the patient’s pain level and physical ability. Specific pain may be treated with low-impact exercises like walking on a treadmill or water aerobics and swimming.
Staying active and moving regularly reduces pain.Learning how to manage your pain through the use of exercise will help you function on a daily basis. If pain flares up, patients are given the proper tools to manage their pain and use the exercises they’ve been taught to address their pain.
Improve Mental Health Caused by Chronic Pain
Your mind and body work together. Your thoughts and attitude affect the way your body manages pain. Pain, and the stress and anxiety associated with pain, have the ability to limit your physical activity and social life. Your daily level of pain influences whether or not you have a “good day” or “bad day.”
Physical therapists and pain specialists understand the importance of exercise to pain patients because exercise is not just about building strength and endurance. People who exercise regularly have a higher sense of well-being and lower anxiety and stress.
Exercising has a positive impact on depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep habits. These are all factors that are negatively affected by chronic pain. Research indicates that even 30 minutes of low-impact exercise a day can positively impact your mood, while teaching your body how to cope with chronic pain.
Daily exercise gets oxygen and blood flowing and releases endorphins. Endorphins act as your body’s natural opiate. The endorphins react with your pain receptors and block communication between the pain signals and your brain, therefore reducing your pain.
Work with a physical therapist and your pain doctor to create realistic exercise goals that will help improve your mood and help reduce your pain. Overdoing it and forcing your body to perform at a high level can worsen your pain, so be sure to follow the instructions of your medical team.