For people suffering from chronic pain, there are movements and activities that help - and others that make things far worse.
Some activities are safe for patients to do despite the temporary discomfort they cause; others have the potential to cause damage. One function of physical therapy is helping patients know the difference, explains Dr. Sydney Harman, anesthesiologist and interventional pain medicine specialist.
Patients with chronic pain commonly tend to decrease their activity level. That pain avoidance then has a de-conditioning effect, actually worsening their pain. That's where physical therapy comes in because one important function of the therapist is to reverse this negative pain/disability cycle.
When patients understand how to safely increase their activity, their confidence increases. As they develop greater strength, their pain levels decrease.
"When I give injections," Dr. Harman reflects, "those are tools to acutely decrease a patient's pain level and allow them to meaningfully participate in their therapy sessions. There are also specialized, neuroscience-based therapy tools such as graded motor imagery to help patients with disorders such as chronic regional pain syndrome," she adds. But education, that's truly the long-term maintenance aspect of treating chronic pain.
At Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedic, we know that there are movements and activities that are harmful and others that are safe. Engaging our patients in their own health means helping them know the difference. If you suffer from chronic pain, request an appointment with our pain medicine specialists.