Does your whole life seem to revolve around the sensation of nagging pain? Are you unable to do your job or pursue your favorite activities because it just hurts too much? It’s true that pain is an unavoidable fact of life from time to time. In fact, pain can prove highly beneficial by alerting you to a physical problem that needs attention or preventing you from using an injured body part. All too commonly, however, pain outlives its usefulness and develops into a chronic problem. If you’re one of the 116 million chronic pain sufferers in this country, you may hate the prospect of living in misery or depending on painkillers to get through the day. If so, you’ll be delighted to learn that Pocatello physical therapy can provide healthy, drug-free pain management options.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Acute pain and chronic pain represent two very different problems, although chronic pain can often start as acute pain. Acute pain occurs due to an acute health condition, meaning an injury or illness that can fully heal. When that problem finally resolves itself, the pain goes away completely. Unfortunately, some forms of pain are associated with chronic conditions that have no clear ending point in sight or can’t be completely reversed. Chronic pain is defined as pain that goes on for at least three months. In many cases, this condition may turn into a lifelong struggle for its sufferers.
Causes of Chronic Pain
There are as many potential causes of chronic pain as there are chronic health conditions. Some forms of chronic pain are idiopathic, stemming from no clear cause at all. Your chronic pain may come from:
- Soft Tissue Inflammation: Everyday tasks that cause micro-tears in your muscles or tendons can leave your soft tissues in a constant state of inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Adhesions (internal scar tissue) is another source of chronic soft tissue pain.
- Muscle Spasms: Abnormal stress on muscles can cause them to go into recurring or constant spasms, causing pain. Muscle spasms in the neck can tug on cranial membranes, producing chronic headaches.
- Pinched Nerves: Pinched nerves can cause pain that you may feel at the point of impingement or further down the nerve pathway (referred pain). Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example; swollen tissues pinch the median nerve, causing chronic hand/wrist pain.
- Joint Disorders: Arthritis and other inflammatory joint problems can cause chronic pain and limit your mobility.
- Degenerative Spinal Problems: Bulging discs, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and other degenerative conditions can cause pain in your neck or back.
- Systemic Chronic Pain Syndrome: A systemic chronic pain syndrome such as fibromyalgia can create muscle knots that refer pain throughout the body.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Chronic Pain
When you’re suffering from a chronic pain condition, you may feel as if you’re stuck with either gritting your teeth and bearing the pain or turning to drugs. Unfortunately, powerful painkillers such as opioids pose risk of overdose, addiction and dangerous interactions with other medicines. The CDC recommends conservative treatment methods such as physical therapy over opioids whenever possible. Your physical therapist at our clinic can prescribe a number of different techniques to help you manage your chronic pain without drugs. Your holistic pain management plan may include:
- Range-of-motion exercises to keep arthritic joints or stiff muscles as mobile as possible
- Massage or trigger point therapy to ease chronic headaches, back pain or neck pain
- Corrective or strengthening exercises to help your body support itself with minimal pain
- Heat, ice and other treatments to control chronic inflammatory pain
- Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), a non-invasive technique for reducing chronic musculoskeletal pain
- Nutritional recommendations, including anti-inflammatory dietary choices
- Lifestyle changes to take unnecessary strain off of muscles and joints
Are you excited by the prospect of getting your chronic pain under control the safe, natural way with the aid of a Pocatello physical therapist – instead of risking your well-being for the temporary relief offered by drugs? Contact High Desert Physical Therapy at Pocatello, ID today for an appointment, so we can help you feel good again!