World PT Day World Physical Therapy Day is celebrated on September 8. Every year, a chosen theme highlights the contribution of physical therapists in enabling people to be mobile and live functional and independent lives. The theme for 2019 is Chronic Pain and the effectiveness of Physical therapy in its treatment and reduction.
What is Chronic Pain?
Pain that last longer than their expected healing time following an injury is described as chronic. Chronic pain affects many lives and is a significant global health burden. While acute pain usually indicates a potential tissue damage and comes on suddenly, chronic pain is not usually related to tissue damage or injury and can persist for months or years. Despite the absence of tissue damage, pain persists due to persons being overly sensitive to a perceived threat or harm to their bodies.
Chronic Pain Causes/Conditions
The more common chronic pain conditions are low back pain, neck and upper back pain, headache disorders, shoulder pain, osteoarthritis (especially knee and hip), rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and cancer.
Common Chronic Pain Myths
A scan will always give an accurate diagnosis. This is not necessarily so as many times changes seen on an X-ray, CT or MRI scan are also seen in the pain free population and are not necessarily reasons for pain.
I am causing damage if it hurts when I move. Even when an activity is painful, it is not always an indication of worsening injury or tissue damage. A programme could be developed for you to move safer and more comfortably.
I should stay in bed and rest. Bed rest over two days have not been shown to be beneficial. However, gradually returning to movement and work have been shown to be better for recovery.
Strong painkillers (opioids) will handle my pain. These actually mask problems and could potentially delay recovery and at worst can be dangerous for your health.
My pain and limited function means there is nothing I can really do. Persons who have a poor or negative understanding of pain tends to be trapped in a vicious cycle of avoiding activities - pain and disability.
The Opioid Crisis
Opioid prescription for chronic pain has been associated with increased opioid-related deaths, high drug dependency and addiction plus other side effects. In 2016, 27 million people suffered from opioid use disorders. In the USA, there were 63,000 plus deaths due to drug overdose in the same year. There was a rise in deaths associated with prescription opioids that played a part in this large figure.
Physical therapy and chronic pain physical therapists (PT) can help patients to understand that pain is the body’s alarm system, and when experiencing chronic pain, it is easily triggered. PT empower and equip patients with the skills needed to control their painful conditions and improve their activity, health and quality of life.
Specific treatment programmes are normally designed by physical therapists for each person. The strategies used include: Exercise therapy, stress management (for example, mindfulness, relaxation, visualisation, graded exposure to stress producing events), coping strategies, activity pacing, problem solving, sleep hygiene and pain science education.
Benefits of Exercise for Chronic Pain
Exercise is utilised by Physical Therapists for its therapeutic effects in the treatment of chronic pain. Exercise is very important for cardiovascular health and improves mood and general wellbeing.
Exercise can help to improve mobility and strength and control pain, which aids in regaining confidence in activities that were once feared for “potentially aggravating” pain.
Physical Therapists will help to reduce the fears attached to pain, explore long term strategies to help patients actively manage their pain and build their confidence in activities that were avoided due to pain. Exercise and physical therapy can help you take control of your life. #TTmoves
Special thanks to the World Confederation for Physical Therapy for providing the educational information used in this article.
Happy World PT Day.