1 in 5 people suffer from persistent pain.
An age old question: Why does pain persist?
Persistent pain, previously known as chronic pain, is pain that persists beyond the period of expected tissue healing. This is usually classified as pain lasting longer than 3 months.
Compare this to acute pain. This is pain of recent onset, ie within 0-12 weeks timeframe, and is due to either injury or disease.
For example rolling your ankle, burning your finger on the hot pan or stubbing your toe. In these cases pain receptors (nociceptors) are activated due to noxious stimulus sending messages to the brain. Think of these messages as alarm bells. The inflammation process occurs during which alarm bells are sent to protect you to allow tissue healing to take place. Eventually once the tissues are healed, these alarm bells reduce meaning the pain decreases.
In the case of persistent pain, the tissues have healed but the brain has concluded that there is still a threat. The alarm system doesn’t calm down after ramping up, but remains extra sensitive, meaning it has less tolerance. Now after a safe task or movement, the alarm system goes off. Thoughts and beliefs are also nerve impulses, whereby those about pain can be powerful enough to maintain a pain state. Even imagining a painful movement, can be enough to cause pain.
How can your Physiotherapist help?
Pain is complex and firstly your Physiotherapist will begin with a thorough assessment. They can then help make sense of your pain and address any of your fears and concerns. Treatment will vary between patients and there are many options depending on what works for you. It will likely include an exercise program tailored for you by your Physiotherapist and targeted at helping you to move forward and achieve your goals, whether that be returning to work, school, sport or daily life.
Remember motion is lotion! Exercise has been proven to be the most effective strategy for managing persistent pain whereby endorphins released during exercise help to dampen down the alarm system.
If you are suffering from persistent pain, contact us now to book an appointment with one of our team who will work together with you to find strategies to assist your recovery.