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Chronic Pain


Published March 23, 2023

Chronic pain can make it difficult to work, sleep, and do the things you enjoy, and can even affect your mood. The debilitating condition is often referred to as the ‘invisible disability’ as it can greatly impact all areas of your everyday life. It can result in physical decline, limited functional ability and emotional distress.

Pain relief can look different for each individual, however physiotherapy is one of the leading treatment options for people suffering from chronic pain. This is especially thanks to its long-term reach and tendency to build productive habits in clients that can be carried into their daily routine.

Putting yourself in charge of your condition helps you manage your chronic pain better. An important first step is to understand the nature of your pain.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is any persistent pain that lasts longer than the normal healing time, or for more than three months. It can range from mild to severe and is usually experienced on most days. It is different from acute pain which develops quickly and doesn’t last as long.

There are several types of chronic pain including musculoskeletal pain, headache disorders, nerve pain, cancer pain and arthritis pain, among others.

Chronic pain can be difficult to manage due to the complex nature of the condition and the unique nature of each sufferer. Sometimes it is not clear to the patient what the cause is. However, many chronic pain sufferers report experiencing depression, anxiety and trouble sleeping, all of which can contribute to making pain perception worse. This response then starts a cycle that is difficult to break.

Having a long-term treatment and management plan in place is one of the most effective ways to improve your day-to-day function and mobility if you are suffering from chronic pain.

man suffering from chronic pain

How chronic pain physiotherapy can help

Physiotherapists are highly skilled health professionals who use evidence-based techniques to manage and improve pain.

Taking pain medication for chronic pain often means your tolerance to it builds up quickly, making them no longer effective in a short period of time. Some medication, like opioids, have a greater risk of addiction and overdose when a tolerance is built up, meaning relying on medication is not an ideal long-term solution.

Having a physiotherapy plan in place, on the other hand, will continuously guide you through your pain management journey in a supportive environment, preparing you for long-term management and visible progress. Those living with chronic pain conditions often find it hurts to complete physical exercise programs. However, your pain will likely worsen if you do not move often and will lead to physical decline. Movement helps your body heal faster and improves your immune system.

Actively managing your pain every day is shown to provide better results compared to those who only rely on pain medication. Stretching and strengthening programs actively help to improve fitness, flexibility and strength, which works to improve pain management over time.

Chronic pain physiotherapy can also benefit:

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Muscle tone
  • Mood and general wellbeing
  • Flexibility
  • Confidence to take part in an activity or social situation usually avoided

The majority of those suffering from chronic pain syndromes will benefit from physiotherapy treatment and will also be encouraged to incorporate some self-management techniques into their routine at home, such as:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Physical activity
  • Pacing daily activities
  • Psychological intervention
  • Eating well and staying hydrated
  • Practising good sleeping habits

What a physio will do for chronic pain

Your physiotherapist will design a program specific to your needs, including manual treatment and exercises that can be incorporated into your daily schedule. When done correctly, it doesn’t take long for the right exercises to begin to reduce your pain.

Your program will be specifically designed for you by your experienced physical therapist following an assessment of your condition, taking into account your physical health, medical history and current physical function.

Your initial consultation may include talking about what makes your pain worse and what makes it better, and how your pain is holding you back in your daily life. The more your physiotherapist gets to know about the nature of your pain, the better they can carefully craft the most effective treatment plan for you. Assessing your range of motion in a gentle and comfortable way is also a crucial step in designing your program.

Physio treatment for chronic pain

Physiotherapy for chronic pain

It isn’t too late to seek out a physiotherapist to help you with your chronic pain management. At Integrity Physio South Perth, our friendly team is dedicated to achieving your health goals and improving your quality of life through patient education and physical exercise.

We can help you identify the most appropriate treatment options best suited to your specific condition. Don’t resign yourself to living with worsening pain forever, reach out to us today to hear how we can help you on your journey to a better quality of life.

Leslie Trigg

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy Leslie Trigg, has over 15 years of experience in clinical practice. He has graduated with a degree in Human Biology (Anatomy and Physiology) from Curtin University in 2001 and later completed a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2007. He has tremendous experience in musculoskeletal, orthopaedic, neurosurgical and sports physiotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, listening to music and spending time with his family.