Pain is the most common reason for seeking medical care. It is also the most common reason why people choose our physical therapy practice for help. If you are considering physical therapy for pain, this information can help.
Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Pain
Acute pain is pain lasting for 12 weeks or less. Acute pain is common with tissue damage that may occur with a ligament sprain, a muscle or tendon strain, inflammation within a joint, or a tear of a muscle, tendon, or meniscus.
Subacute pain is pain that lasts for 3 to 6 months. Subacute pain is common with more complex conditions where there is prolonged healing (joint replacements and the pain associated with the recover after surgery).
Chronic pain is pain lasting for more than 6 months. While the body’s musculoskeletal tissues may heal from an initial injury or degenerative change, pain may persist for months past the tissue healing process. Nearly 50 million American adults have significant chronic pain or severe pain, according to a new study prepared by National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). (1)
IMPORTANT: within 6 months almost all tissue damage completely heals. Rarely is there a case when the body cannot heal. Rare cases of diabetes may limit the healing process; however, in almost all cases, tissue healing will occur within 6 months.
Physical therapists that are trained to help patients with chronic pain can really help patients with chronic pain. Below, we will describe how.
What is Pain? Pain is an Output, not an Input.
Pain is the combination of numerous factors that result in a conscious experience that demands your attention.
Below is a list of many of the factors that contribute to your conscious experience of pain.
In other words, pain is NOT damaged tissue stimulating pain nerves which send pain signal through pain nerves up to your brain. There’s much more too it.
The good news is that means there are lots of ways to positively impact your pain.
Chronic Pain is Complex – here’s the current model of the of pain & fear-avoidance
The great news is that our specially trained physical therapists can help you understand these factors and improve, even get rid of your pain.
Here are some of the factors that contribute to your perception of pain:
The Principles of Chronic Pain Treatment
New ideas studied by pain scientists suggest that there are four basic components to the successful treatment of pain.
- Pain education – pain neuroscience education (PNE) or therapeutic neuroscience education (TNE) helps patients understand that pain is an output from the brain, it’s complex, and not just in your head.
- Exercise – numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that paced & graded exercise can have an extremely positive impact on pain.
- Sleep Health – addressing sleep issues can also decrease pain
- Goal Setting – it took months, even years for your body and brain to experience the chronic pain. Setting specific, reasonable, and progressive goals are part of a successful chronic pain treatment program.
We’ve Only Scratched the Surface of All the Great Treatments Our Therapists Can Provide!
If you have chronic pain, we encourage you to set up an appointment with one of our physical therapists. We will take a thorough health history, perform a physical exam, create a custom program for you and help put you back on the road to recovery.