Pain is a warning system that signals our bodies that something is wrong. On the plus side, pain protects the body from further injury. However, when the pain lingers, it can affect your daily life. Medications and rest may not be enough to relieve it. You may need physical therapy if you suffer from persistent, lingering pain.
Are You Suffering from Lingering Pain?
Lingering pain, or persistent and chronic pain, usually lasts over three months. It does not necessarily persist all the time. The pain may come and go, occurring at certain times of the day or during specific activities.
About 1 in every 4 Americans suffers from lingering or chronic pain. It can occur anywhere in the body, including the back, head, or joints. Persistent pain may be difficult to diagnose because it presents itself in various ways. You may feel aching, burning, shooting, tingling, stabbing, squeezing, or stiffness. A detailed physical exam, medical history, and medical tests will help your healthcare provider identify and manage your lingering pain.
Conditions like arthritis and chronic sciatica can lead to persistent pain. Lack of sleep and physical activity may also contribute to lingering pain. Sometimes, it can also occur with no identifiable physical cause or injury. This type of pain may be psychogenic or psychosomatic. Low levels of endorphins in the body due to depression, anxiety, or stress, may lead to lingering pain.
Treating Lingering Pain with Physical Therapy
In addition to medications and lifestyle changes, doctors may recommend physical therapy to help manage chronic pain. This medical specialty aims to promote physical health through patient education and guidance with prescribed therapy and exercise programs.
Physical therapists are movement experts. They understand how the body moves and are skilled in treating orthopedic, neurologic, and other conditions that can cause lingering pain. By assessing your condition, they can create a personalized physical therapy program that may include various techniques and modalities.
Here are some of the effective pain management strategies physical therapists use in their treatment:
Manual Therapy for Pain Management
Manual therapy is a type of hands-on massage. Its purpose is to facilitate movement in the muscle, boost circulation, and relieve pain. As a traditional method in physical therapy, manual therapy is an effective way to relax tensed muscles and desensitize painful nerve endings.
Thermal and Electrical Modalities for Pain Management
In addition to direct manual pressure, applying hot or cold packs can also relieve pain. Cold packs are good at controlling inflammation and swelling. On the other hand, heat packs are good at relieving tense and painful muscles. Electrical stimulation is also an effective way to control pain. Research has shown that electrical modalities can block pain signals, boost circulation, and help strengthen muscles.
Therapeutic Exercise for Pain Management
Most people who experience lingering pain become fearful of moving and further injuring the affected body part. However, we become more prone to injuries with no movement or exercise because the body becomes weaker and less flexible. As a better alternative, physical therapy provides a safe and effective way to exercise and move around without aggravating the pain.
Physical Therapy in Rochester Hills, Michigan
Lingering pain affects our ability to function and enjoy life. While medications are effective, they can only relieve symptoms for a short while and may also cause complications when taken long-term. With the guidance of therapists, physical therapy can alleviate your pain effectively and safely.
Here at Ahlgren Spine, our goal is to help you regain your mobility and relieve your pain. We will always recommend non-invasive treatments before surgery. Dr. Bradley Ahlgren and our team will work with you to diagnose your condition properly, discuss your treatment goals for lingering pain, and refer you to an experienced physical therapist.