If you are suffering from chronic pain, you know how hard it is to get on with everyday life while suffering.
While there is no direct cure for chronic pain, there are ways to manage symptoms caused by the underlying condition, whatever it may be. Working with a physical therapist is one of the ways to manage your discomfort if you are dealing with chronic pain.
At Capitol Physical Therapy, we will work with you to determine the source of your pain. Your physical therapist will gain an understanding of the issues, build a strategy to tackle the issue, and teach you techniques to use at home to ease your pain.
Contact us today to book an appointment.
What Is Chronic Pain?
It should come as no surprise to learn that everyone deals with pain to a certain extent.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of pain – acute pain, and chronic pain.
Acute pain is pain linked to a specific event. If you stubbed your toe on the corner of the bed, for example, you’ll feel acute pain. It’s there to light up a specific event, and it passes after a while.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, lasts more than three months. This type of pain often persists after the injury or condition causing it has healed.
Chronic pain is the result of your nervous system continuing to send signals to your brain even after the source of the pain has been resolved. Symptoms can persist anywhere from weeks to years. Sufferers of chronic pain may also experience limits to their mobility, reduced flexibility or strength, and limited endurance.
Chronic pain can feel sharp or dull, it may manifest in a burning or aching sensation, and it may be steady or intermittent throughout the day. Depending on the area of the body in which you experience it, chronic pain can be completely debilitating.
Whether the pain is large or small, chronic pain causes the body to feel persistent stress. High stress levels are dangerous to overall health and can become life threatening. One way to ease your pain and stress is to work with a physical therapist.
Let’s look more closely at some of the underlying conditions that may result in chronic pain, and the ways in which physical therapy can help you deal with them.
Physical Therapy Treatments For Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread pain (felt both above and below the waist) that can’t be explained by another source like arthritis or multiple sclerosis. Your doctor will diagnose fibromyalgia by determining if you have trigger points for pain in your body, after ruling out these other disorders.
The causes of fibromyalgia are largely unknown but the pain results from increased sensitivity of the normal pain signals. In other words the nervous system feels threatened and therefore causes pain in order to protect you.
Fibromyalgia flare ups can be treated by both passive and active physical therapy treatments. Some examples of passive treatments include dry needling, heat & cold therapy, or TENS. Examples of active treatments are stretching, flexibility exercises, or low impact aerobics.
Your physical therapist will use a combination of active and passive treatments to teach you how to manage your pain symptoms and flare ups as they occur.
If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, there is hope. Book your appointment today with Capitol Physical Therapy, and we’ll help you work toward managing your fibromyalgia pain.
Physical Therapy Treatments For Myofascial Pain Syndrome
We all experience muscle pain and tension, but if the condition persists and worsens, you could find yourself diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome.
Symptoms include a deep, aching pain in a muscle, and sometimes referred pain to other regions of the body. If you find you have difficulty sleeping due to muscle pain, see your doctor.
If left untreated, myofascial pain syndrome can develop into fibromyalgia, where your nerves and brain begin to overreact to pain. The pain then spreads to other areas of the body.
Myofascial pain syndrome is usually the result of an injury or repetitive strain to a muscle. The muscle develops sensitive areas of tenderness known as trigger points. The development of a trigger point in a muscle can lead to further strain and pain that worsens. If the pain persists despite rest, massage, or hot and cold treatment, it’s a good time to see a physical therapist.
Physical therapy for myofascial pain syndrome will vary depending on where the pain is located. Exercise is an important component of the treatment, which may also include dry needling, stretching, posture strengthening exercises, TENS, or heat therapy. Your physical therapist will work with you to diagnose the problem and make a treatment plan for your specific issue.
Physical Therapy Treatments For Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS, is a multi system disorder that results in long term pain. CRPS can be the result of a nerve injury, but it can also develop with no injury, and affects the following systems:
- The central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord
- The peripheral nervous system, the nerves that run from your spinal cord and brain throughout your body
- The autonomic nervous system, which regulates heart rate, digestion, and breathing
- The immune system, which detects danger and sends inflammatory chemicals to fight disease
When these systems are over active, you experience increased sensitivity to pain as well as other muscle and joint aches. As an example, when you are sick and you have full body aches, that is your immune response to the virus that is infecting your body.
Symptoms of CRPS include pain and sensitivity to light touch, excess sweating in the affected area, tissue swelling, changes to your bone or joint, a change in the temperature, color or positioning of a limb, and a feeling of significant pins, needles, or throbbing pain in the affected area.
Your doctor will diagnose CRPS after ruling out other conditions such as diabetes, Lyme’s disease, or peripheral neuropathy. Approximately 90% of CRPS cases occur as the result of an injury, so a physical therapist may often be the first to recognize the issue.
Due to the varying symptoms of CRPS, physical therapy treatments take a variety of approaches to treat this affliction. Your initial consultation will consist of an interview to determine the source of your injury, the frequency and severity of your pain, activities you’re having trouble with, sleep quality, and/or nutritional habits.
Your physical therapist may ask you to perform simple tasks such as walking, balancing, or squatting, and they may test the mobility of the area where you experience pain. They will share best practices to help you improve your sleep and nutrition.
There is currently no known cure for complex regional pain syndrome. However, physical therapy treatments can help you manage your condition and reduce the length and severity of your flare ups.
Book an appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today to find out more.
Physical Therapy Treatments For Chronic Headaches
There are many types of headaches and the severity of pain varies. However, the more frequent and severe they become, the more they affect your quality of life. Whether you are suffering from tension headaches or more serious migraines, a physical therapist has the tools to help you.
Headaches are caused by a variety of reasons:
- Tension or stress
- Neck or muscle related issues
- The result of a fever, disease, illness, or more serious tumor
- Migraines due to hormonal changes or genetic disposition
If you have been suffering from headaches on a recurring basis, it may be time to seek the advice of your doctor. A consultation with a physical therapist can also help you manage your painful headaches.
Physical therapy for headache sufferers may include a combination of the following:
- manual therapy to relieve joints and muscle stiffness, increase neck mobility, release spasms, and improve muscle performance
- Dry needling to relieve pressure points
- Exercises to decrease pain, inflammation, and build endurance
- Education: identifying triggers for your headaches and changing habits, including more exercise and a healthy diet, are key to alleviating your pain
Physical Therapy Treatments For Arthritis
Aches and pains in the joints are pretty common as you get older, but persistent joint pain and stiffness can be a sign that you’re developing arthritis. So how can you tell when it is time to see your doctor to explore a possible diagnosis of arthritis?
There are two categories of arthritis: inflammatory arthritis, which includes rheumatoid arthritis, or arthritis from wear and tear of the joints, which includes osteoarthritis. Both involve pain in the joints, such as the knees, hips, wrists, or elbows. Neck and back pain or swelling in the joints are also symptoms of arthritis.
Here are some of the most common types of pain and symptoms you may experience with arthritis are:
- Deep aching joint pain
- Pain after use of the joint
- Pain that gets better with rest
- Swelling of the joints
- Restricted movement of the joint that may affect your posture
- Stiffness of the joint in the mornings
Physical therapy can reduce the pain of arthritis through exercises targeted to bring down swelling and improve range of motion, dry needling, heat therapy, and others.
Book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today, and let’s talk about how to bring you arthritis relief.
Physical Therapy Treatments For Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is pain created by the nerves themselves, rather than within the joints or muscles. This disorder can be the result of injury, damage due to another condition, or it could be idiopathic, meaning the cause is undetermined.
There are many causes of neuropathic pain. Some of the most common include:
- Autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis
- Back, neck or spinal injury
- Cancer and cancer treatments
Symptoms of neuropathic pain include burning, itching, or stabbing pain in many parts of the body, and can be debilitating. After the damage to the nerve has healed the pain may persist. If you are experiencing chronic neuropathic pain, a physical therapist can help.
Treatment that has proven most effective for neuropathic pain involves a multimodal treatment plan that encompasses different strategies. In addition to medication, physical therapy treatments that show the most success in pain reduction include:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) used by your therapist to stimulate the nerves of the affected area
- Manual therapy: flexibility and stability exercises through manipulation of the joints affected by the nerve pain
- Exercises to improve muscle function, improve posture, and take the pressure off the nerves
Don’t suffer in silence. Work with a physical therapist to find the best treatment plan for your symptoms.
Book An Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy
If you live in the Washington DC area and suffer from a chronic pain condition, Capitol Physical Therapy is here to help.
Our practitioners use an initial consultation to gain an understanding of the underlying source of your pain. They will develop a plan to apply appropriate strategies to treat your symptoms. And you will learn exercises and techniques to use at home to ease your pain and get your body on the road to recovery.
Book an appointment today with Capitol Physical Therapy.
Chronic pain or an injury holding you back? Capitol Physical Therapy can help.
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