The thing about pain is that it demands to be felt. It is debilitating and frustrating and it inspires the worst kind of helplessness. Pain may interfere with your work, sleep, physical activities and quality time you spend with your friends and family. It becomes extremely tough to get rid of pain, especially chronic pain. In this case, managing your pain by using some potent methods may bring relief so you can live life with comfort and ease. Effective pain management may require physiotherapy that involves a combination of strategies to bring pain relief to the people. (1)
Physiotherapy or physical therapy or kinesiotherapy is considered an effective method for pain prevention and management (2, 3). Simply put, it is therapeutic care for people with pain and helps them deal with pain better by improving the movement and healthy functions of their body. It may include physical activities, exercises, and training & education (4).
Scroll down to find out more about physiotherapy and how it can be an effective tool in pain management!
Role of Physiotherapy in Pain Management
Physical therapy is an interdisciplinary approach to help people with pain management and functional impairments. A combination of physical modalities with exercise may ease the pain, as well as reduce the risk of future pathology and physiological changes that usually result in chronic pain. This therapy basically focuses on reducing disability and suffering by managing pain and enhancing tolerance to movement and activity. (2, 5)
Physical therapy with a combination of exercise, hands-on manipulation, massage, and education may help reduce stiffness, soreness, and inflammation (6, 7) of muscles and tissues. Some kind of physical therapy such as acupuncture can release endorphins that may play a significant role in managing pain and inflammation. Thus, it may assist the body to heal itself by encouraging the production of the body’s natural pain-relieving ‘chemicals’. (8, 9)
Physical Therapy For Pain Management
Physical therapy can be used to alleviate sources of chronic pain, including:
- Chronic Headaches (10)
- Fibromyalgia (11)
- Osteoarthritis (3, 12)
- Neuropathic Pain (8)
- Back Pain and Neck Pain (13)
- Muscle Strength and Joint Stability (14)
How Physiotherapy Helps Chronic Pain?
Manual Manipulation: In order to reduce chronic pain and other musculoskeletal conditions, manual physical therapy plays an integral role. However, one needs to do a proper selection of techniques and precise implementation for a successful outcome and also to reduce the risk of further injury or impairment. (15) In fact, manual manipulation by a qualified physiotherapist is considered more effective over other methods of pain management for neck and low-back soreness and strain (16).
Electrical stimulation of the nerves: This method of physiotherapy is good for both severe and persistent pain and helps reduce pain. It also increases the ability to control that pain (17). Electric stimulation of the nerves is a process that helps manage painful situations using devices which deliver electric stimulation to the nervous structure (18).
Acupuncture: Using fine and soft needles to puncture strategic points on the body, some pain conditions including back and neck pain, headaches, and osteoarthritis pain can be managed(19). Acupuncture is especially effective for people who suffer from chronic back pain, headaches and pain in the limbs (19).
Massage: Therapeutic massage is one of the best programs to manage chronic pain. It is relaxing mentally and physically and may help relieve pain by way of several mechanisms, such as soothing painful muscles, joints, and tendons, as well as stimulate competing for nerve fibers to stop the pain. It is also effective in reducing stress and anxiety. (20)
Stretching: When in pain, stretches may be included as a part of a physical therapy program and recommended to be done at home regularly. Research shows that exercises like stretching may support pain management in people with chronic pain conditions. (21) Moreover, low-cost stretching exercises are known for eliminating neck pain and disability in women with non-specific neck pain (22). Other health benefits of stretching may include increased ROM (Range of Motion), muscle flexibility and performance, increased blood flow, and improved posture and straightening body shape and posture (23, 24, 25).
Pain may be inevitable but suffering is optional. Physiotherapy could not only help manage pain but also might help in providing a lot of health benefits by improving your body functions and managing your pain. However, each person may react differently to therapy as per their own body type, alignment, daily activities, and habits and how these factors interact or affect their aches and pains. The important thing with physiotherapy is to be regular with it to get optimum benefits and increase efficacy. If you are in pain and want more information about how you address the root of the problem and not just the symptoms, then a copy of [The Secrets of Pain Management: What Big Pharma Hopes You Never Find Out] may be helpful for you.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements and/or product(s) described in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease, illness or health condition. It is advisable to consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet or dietary supplement program.
- Sanghavi M, Saroj & Sanghavi M, Dakshesk. “Role of Physiotherapy in Pain Management”. Supplement To Journal Of The Association Of Physicians Of India. 2015. http://www.japi.org/february_2015_special_issue_pain/06_role_of_physiotherapy_in.pdf
- Gloth, Mark J., and Ann M. Matesi. “Physical therapy and exercise in pain management.” Clinics in geriatric medicine. 17:3 (2001): 525-535. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11459719
- Kavuncu, Vural, and Deniz Evcik. “Physiotherapy in rheumatoid arthritis.” MedGenMed : Medscape general medicine vol. 6(2): 3: (2004). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1395797/
- “Physical Therapy”. Mayo Clinic. https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/services-and-treatments/physical-therapy
- Egan, M., D. Seeger, and P. Schöps. “Physiotherapy and physical therapy in pain management.” Schmerz (Berlin, Germany). 29:5 (2015): 562-568. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26373552
- Petrofsky, Jerrold, et al. “The efficacy of sustained heat treatment on delayed-onset muscle soreness.” Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. 27:4 (2017): 329-337. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27454218
- Dupuy, Olivier, et al. “An evidence-based approach for choosing post-exercise recovery techniques to reduce markers of muscle damage, soreness, fatigue and inflammation: a systematic review with meta-analysis.” Frontiers in physiology. 9 (2018): 403. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5932411/
- Han, Ji-Sheng. “Acupuncture and endorphins.” Neuroscience letters. 361:1-3 (2004): 258-261. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15135942
- Chen, Xueyin, Jinyuan Zhang, and Xiangrui Wang. “Hormones in pain modulation and their clinical implications for pain control: a critical review.” Hormones. 15:3 (2016): 313-320. http://www.hormones.gr/pdf/Hormones_15-313.pdf
- Fernandez-de-las-Penas, Cesar, and Maria L. Cuadrado. “Physical therapy for headaches.” Cephalalgia. 36:12 (2016): 1134-1142. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26660851
- Stucki, M. Offenbächer, G. “Physical therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia.” Scandinavian journal of rheumatology. 29:113 (2000): 78-85. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26660851
- Page, Carolyn J., Rana S. Hinman, and Kim L. Bennell. “Physiotherapy management of knee osteoarthritis.” International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases. 14:2 (2011): 145-151. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21518313
- Moffett, J., and S. McLean. “The role of physiotherapy in the management of non-specific back pain and neck pain.” Rheumatology. 45:4 (2005): 371-378. https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/45/4/371/1784935
- Shori, Gaurav, Gagan Kapoor, and Prativa Talukdar. “Effectiveness of home-based physiotherapy on pain and disability in participants with osteoarthritis of knee: an observational study.” Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 30:10 (2018): 1232-1236.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6181665/
- Coronado, Rogelio A, and Joel E Bialosky. “Manual physical therapy for chronic pain: the complex whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The Journal of manual & manipulative therapy. 25:3 (2017): 115-117. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5498791/
- Sran, MM. “To treat or not to treat: new evidence for the effectiveness of manual therapy”. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 38(2004): 521-525. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/38/5/521.citation-tools
- Miles, J. “Electrical stimulation for the relief of pain.” Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 66:2 (1984): 108-12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2492404/
- Rushton, D. N. “Electrical stimulation in the treatment of pain.” Disability and rehabilitation. 24:8 (2002): 407-415. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2492404/
- “Acupuncture: In Depth”. NIH. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction#hed1
- “Therapeutic massage for pain relief”. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-complementary-medicine/therapeutic-massage-for-pain-relief
- Warburton, Darren E R et al. “Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence.” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne. 174:6 (2006): 801-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1402378/
- Ylinen, Jari, et al. “Stretching exercises vs manual therapy in treatment of chronic neck pain: a randomized, controlled cross-over trial.” Journal of rehabilitation medicine. 39:2 (2007): 126-132. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17351694
- Page, Phil. “Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation.” International journal of sports physical therapy. 7:1 (2012): 109-19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/
- Opplert, Jules, and Nicolas Babault. “Acute effects of dynamic stretching on muscle flexibility and performance: an analysis of the current literature.” Sports Medicine. 48:2 (2018): 299-325. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29063454
- Kim, DeokJu et al. “Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain.” Journal of physical therapy science. 27:6 (2015): 1791-4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499985/