Chronic pain is often described as any pain condition which has lasted for longer than 3 months. This is how it may happen, using the example of a shoulder muscle strain:
· Muscle receptors & inflammatory chemicals detect a change in the area
· Messages are sent to the brain that there is a problem
· The brain produces a pain response in the shoulder, designed to protect us so we do not further hurt ourselves
Over time the muscle heals and for many people, that is the end of the pain experience. For others however, they may still have shoulder pain months later. This is usually because:
· The human body is highly adaptable, and the nervous system has learned that “when I move my shoulder, I get pain”
· An overprotective nervous system – even though the muscle itself is healed, our nervous system response is heightened
So, what can we do about this?
1. There is excellent evidence for “graded exposure” therapy. This involves breaking an activity down into more manageable tasks.
2. Exercise! There are many studies confirming that exercise is the best treatment we have for improving chronic pain over the long term.
Your physio will be able to adapt an exercise to meet your current level, and provide reassurance that their exercises won’t do any damage.
A message of hope:
The adaptable nervous system is what causes chronic pain, so we can use that to re-learn healthy, reassuring movement. Over time, the body can realize you are no longer in danger, and the pain experience goes down.
If you need a physio Adelaide based give us a ring on 7122 5250.