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Chronic Pain

 

Chronic pain is a condition that occurs when the brain concludes there is a threat to a person's well-being based on the many signals it receives from the body. This condition can and often does occur independently of any actual body tissue damage (due to injury or illness), and beyond normal tissue healing time.

It is estimated that 116 million Americans have chronic pain each year. 

 

How Does it Feel?

How chronic pain feels varies with each individual; it is very personal. How often it occurs, how severe it is, or how long it lasts is not predictable from one person to another.

Common complaints related to chronic pain include:

  • It may seem as if "everything hurts, everywhere."

  • There may be sudden stabs of pain.

  • It may seem as if the pain "has a mind of its own."

  • You feel symptoms even if you are not doing anything to cause them.

  • It feels worse when you think about it.

  • It feels worse when you experience upsetting circumstances in your life.

  • You may feel more anxious and depressed.

  • You may feel your symptoms spread from one area to another area.

  • You may feel fatigued, and afraid to do your normal activities.

These complaints are common when you have chronic pain. However, it does not necessarily mean that your physical condition is worsening; it may just mean that your system has become more sensitive.

 

How Is It Diagnosed?

Your physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation. He or she will:

  • Ask specific questions about your past and present health and use of medication.

  • Ask about your symptoms: their location, intensity, how and when the pain occurs, and other questions, to form a clear picture of your individual situation.

  • Ask you to fill out pain and function questionnaires, to understand how the pain is affecting your daily life.

  • Perform tests and movements with you. The tests help to identify problems with posture, flexibility, muscle strength, joint mobility, and movement. Special tests help to rule out any serious health problem such as pressure on a nerve or an underlying disease.

  • Observe how you use your body for home, work, and social/leisure activities. This information helps your therapist prescribe a program that will boost your quality of life, and get you moving your best.

 

How Can a Physical Therapist Help?

Your physical therapist will work with you to educate you on chronic pain, find solutions to improve your quality of life, and get you moving again! He or she will help you improve movement, teach you pain management strategies, and, in many cases, reduce your pain.

 Pain Management Education 

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