Chronic pain usually falls into one of two categories:
Nociceptive pain is caused by damage to body tissue and usually described as a sharp, aching, or throbbing pain. The damage may be due to an event such as an injury or surgery or an active disease process within the tissues.
Neuropathic pain occurs when there is actual nerve damage. Nerves connect the spinal cord to the rest of the body and allow the brain to communicate with the skin, muscles and internal organs. Nutritional imbalance, alcoholism, toxins, infections or auto-immunity can all damage this pathway and cause pain. People often describe this pain as a burning or heavy sensation, or numbness along the path of the affected nerve.
Chronic pain is a surprisingly common condition in Australia. In 2007, around 3.2 million Australians (1.4 million males and 1.7 million females) are estimated to experience chronic pain.
Pain is a problem through the lifespan. Some studies indicate that the occurrence of chronic pain in children is as common in adults. Pain in children and young people is often undertreated, and children and young adults with chronic pain are at an increased risk of transitioning to chronic pain as adults. Older people are twice as likely to be diagnosed with chronic pain.
The prevalence of chronic pain is projected to increase as Australia’s population ages – from around 3.2 million Australians in 2007 to 5.0 million by 2050. Of these, females bear a greater share of chronic pain, over 54% for the projection period.
Assessment is critical as soon as someone is not back to normal functioning as expected after initial treatment. Pain relief must not be the only goal. Treatments need to address functional goals and obstacles to progress. Simply addressing pain severity alone is unlikely to be sufficient in promoting functional goals.
There is a range of passive and active exercises and movements designed to maintain or improve movement and flexibility of joints, and maintain or improve muscle tone and strength. Physiotherapists are highly skilled practitioners who use scientific evidence based research to manage and improve pain.
An active exercise program is needed when suffering chronic pain. This means a program that is individually designed for you by your physiotherapist which entails specific exercises which you can complete in your own time.
The physiotherapist will assess your present physical function and gear the exercises to your personal level of attainment and overall physical health. The physiotherapist will design a treatment plan for you and liaise with other members of your health care team where appropriate.
When you have chronic pain, it hurts to exercise but it hurts a lot more if you don’t. It only takes one week in bed for muscles to begin wasting and joints to stiffen so a stretching and strengthening exercise program can help build fitness which in turn helps to cope with persistent pain.
Please call your Physiotherapist at Health on Grange Physiotherapy on 08 8443 4613 or visit our clinic at 256 Grange Road in Flinders Park for more information.