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Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is, technically, pain persisting for at least 6 months that is severe enough to affect daily functioning and relationships.

Acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself.  Chronic pain is pain that occurs day in, day out, and it actually triggers changes in the nerves and brain. They become more sensitive to any, even slight pain, in the “injured” area, and more nerve fibers and areas of the brain start to pay attention to these pain signals.  These changes make sure that the pain signals keep firing for weeks, months, or years, even if the original injury has healed.

While for some people there may have been an initial mishap such as a sprained back, or an ongoing cause of pain, such as arthritis, many people suffer from chronic pain conditions without experiencing a provoking injury.  Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Interstitial Cystitis are examples of chronic pain conditions whose origins are poorly understood.

The latest pain research suggests that a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment, including physician specialists, physical therapy, behavioral therapy and medications, yields the best results.

Chronic pain itself can change how a person moves, exercises or works and these changes result in additional aches and pains.  Physical therapy can help by restoring ideal muscle balance around the affected areas and by use of therapeutic modalities to reduce pain.  Techniques that are used may include manual therapy techniques, special exercises for strengthening or re-learning movement, and postural counseling.

Common chronic pain complaints include headache, low back pain, neck and upper back pain, pelvic and abdominal pain.  Our physical therapists are well-equipped to help you address these painful areas for the long term.

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