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chronic pain

Physiotherapy’s Role in Chronic Pain

Chronic pain, the “invisible disability” can be a debilitating condition impacting all areas of your life. Chronic pain can make it difficult to work, sleep, do the things you enjoy, and even affect your mood. More than 50% of those experiencing chronic pain become anxious or depressed due to their struggle. As a result, focusing on your emotional health and wellbeing is just as important as physical treatments for chronic pain.


What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is any pain that lasts beyond normal healing time, or for more than three months. Chronic pain differs from acute pain; for example, pain from an injury that happens quickly and usually doesn’t last long. There are several types of chronic pain, such as pain from the bones, nerve pain, muscle pain, joint pain and cancer pain. Chronic pain varies from mild to severe.

Chronic pain has many causes, however, sometimes there is no obvious cause. Often chronic pain is due to chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid and other musculoskeletal conditions. It may also be caused by an injury or after surgery. Sometimes it is not clear to the patient what the cause is. 


How is Chronic Pain Managed?

Medication is not the only treatment necessary for chronic pain. In fact, where possible, it is avoided. Actively managing your pain each day is shown to provide better results compared to those who only rely on pain medication. The majority of those with chronic pain benefit from a range of treatments and self-management techniques, such as:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Exercise
  • Pacing daily activities
  • Psychological intervention
  • Getting enough sleep


How Can Physiotherapy Help?

Physiotherapists are highly skilled health professionals who use evidence-based techniques to manage and improve pain. Physio involves a range of techniques, both passive and active to rehabilitate and improve function and movement.

Those living with chronic pain often find it hurts to complete physical exercise programs. However, it will likely be much more painful if you don’t move. Stretching and strengthening programs help to improve fitness, strength and flexibility, which improves pain management over time. Plus, it often doesn’t take long for the right exercises to reduce your pain. 


What Will Happen When I See a Physiotherapist?

For chronic pain, an active exercise program is often very effective. Your program will be specifically designed for you by your physio in Perth and will include exercises that you can practice and incorporate into your daily schedule. Your program will be based on an assessment done by your physiotherapist which takes into account your present physical function and overall physical health.

You may think that it’s counterintuitive to exercise with chronic pain. However, it is often one of the best things that you can do. Movement helps your body to heal faster and improves the immune system. On the other hand, avoiding movement can lead to further pain and an increase in disability.


Chronic pain is a condition that can affect many areas of everyday life. Chronic pain can go unnoticed by others; however, for the person suffering this condition it can affect many areas of their life. Physiotherapy provides effective treatment to manage and improve chronic pain. By strengthening your muscles and improving movement, physio for chronic pain will improve your overall quality of life.

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy, Leslie Trigg, has over 13 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.