Are you living with persistent pain that interferes with your plans? Are you finding it hard to enjoy your favourite activities or complete your work or study? If this has been going on for three months or more, then you may be one of the 20% of Australians living with chronic pain.
While there’s no cure for chronic pain, there are ways to lessen its impact on your life. That’s why it’s important to persist in getting a diagnosis and treatment. A well-rounded treatment plan may include a mix of medications, psychological support and physiotherapy. The aim is to help you live well despite the pain.
Chronic Pain and Physiotherapy
Around 1 in 5 Australians lives with chronic pain. It can take a long time to get the right diagnosis, find an effective mix of treatments, and learn how to live a satisfying life alongside the pain.
What is Chronic Pain?
Pain is said to be chronic or persistent if it lasts longer than three months.
If you’ve had an injury or an operation, you may expect a certain amount of pain, but this usually goes away when your body heals.
Chronic pain hangs around. You may have healed from the original trauma but you still hurt. You may not have even had an injury or illness – just pain with no known cause.
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is a condition in its own right. It’s related to changes in your nerves or nervous system that mean your nerves keep sending pain signals.
Often, chronic pain begins when you develop a particular health condition or injure yourself in some way. Conditions that can lead to chronic pain in some people include:
- Back problems
- Migraines and headaches
- Nerve damage
- Past injuries
Chronic pain is a complex condition. It may not have an obvious cause – and that can be very frustrating.
Symptoms and Consequences of Chronic Pain
The experience of chronic pain varies from person to person. You may find it’s constant or that it comes and goes. It might be mild or severe.
Pain feels different to different people too. It could be a dull ache or a throbbing, burning or shooting pain. Some people feel stiff and sore. Others feel like they’re being pinched or squeezed.
Despite these different experiences, people consistently report that it’s hard to live with chronic pain. It gets in the way, stopping you from doing things you enjoy and making it hard to work. You may also find that it takes a toll on your mental and emotional health. You might feel stressed, worried, frustrated, misunderstood, angry or depressed. You’ll probably also be very tired as it’s hard to sleep well when you’re in pain.
How is Chronic Pain Treated?
Chronic pain can affect many aspects of your life. Because of that, treating chronic pain relies on a blend of:
- Psychological support
Medication can help to ease pain and manage depression. Psychological support such as cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness, hypnotherapy and biofeedback therapy may help ease the stress of living with pain.
Managing chronic pain usually needs the combined skills of several different healthcare professionals. That might include your GP, physiotherapist, psychologist and a nurse.
Learning more about your pain can help you manage it. It gives you a greater sense of understanding and control and may help calm any fears you have.
Another thing you can do is learn to move despite your pain. That’s where physiotherapy comes in.
How Does Physiotherapy Help Chronic Pain?
When something hurts, it’s natural to stop doing it. If moving hurts then you may well prefer to stay in bed. But that leads to other problems when your muscles begin wasting and your joints get stiff.
A physiotherapist with a special interest in pain management can really help. Your physio can assess the degree to which pain has changed your movements and help you learn how to move through pain.
A skilled physio can develop a tailored exercise plan to help you regain strength, mobility and fitness. Exercise may even reduce pain itself.
The Brisbane Spine Clinic’s Approach to Chronic Pain
Here at The Brisbane Spine Clinic, we aim to offer every patient the highest level of care through evidence-based, personalised and compassionate treatment that’s non-invasive.
We know that many people with chronic pain have had frustrating experiences with healthcare professionals. So, we start by listening carefully to your journey so far.
We always assess you carefully before developing a treatment plan to help you move more easily. We’re here to encourage and support you as you learn to move despite your pain. We’re also here to reassure you that it is safe to move in these ways and that you’re not harming yourself, even though it may hurt.
With your permission, we liaise with other professionals in your treatment team so that you receive coordinated care. We also stay alert to changes in your body so we can adjust our treatment or celebrate your progress.
If you’d like our help, please contact us.