Pain is a response of the nervous system that helps alert you to injury. Impulses travel from the site of injury through the spinal column to the brain.
Health professionals look at when the pain started, what it feels like, where it is located and what triggers or reduces it. Chronic pain may be caused by an initial injury related to muscles, joints or nerves. In some cases, however, some people experience chronic pain without any initial injury.
This type of pain lasts over 3 months and may extend over many years. Some conditions that often result in chronic pain are back pain, joint pain, nerve pain and headaches.
In the event of occasional aches and pains, you may resort to pain medications. However, when you have to deal with consistent pain, you may begin to question quite a few aspects of your existence-your personality, your levels of social support as well as your cognitive abilities.
Pain medications may become your go-to source of relief, though you may try to resist them. Your quality of life may be drastically affected and aspects seemingly unrelated to the physical component of the pain, viz self-confidence, stress levels, anxiety, memory, attention, cognitive tasks, are interfered with. On a larger scale, productivity and self-worth are affected negatively.
How physiotherapy can help and the impact of therapeutic exercises on chronic pain
Physiotherapy refers to the use of physical agents to decrease pain, improve range and quality of movement and prevent injury or complications to existing injury, illness or disability.
In Ghana, most of the hard-working labor force tend to have to contend with one sort of chronic pain or the other. Pain at one point of one’s life may be perceived as a normal aging process or a normal response to work. Contrary to popular belief, ageing is not a reason for pain. Neither is any regular daily activity.
With regard to what type of chronic pain you are suffering, physiotherapists carry out an evaluation to arrive at a physical diagnosis. Physiotherapists employ manual therapy, electrotherapy, as well as therapeutic exercises, and prescribe appropriate physical exercises, which work with physiological pathways to bring relief and healing to the body.
The natural reaction of an individual to chronic pain would be inactivity, in a bid to guard against the pain. It is however very important to note that reduced activity levels cause muscles and joints to lose strength and integrity progressively.
As unfortunate as this may sound, it is not an all-gloomy situation. Certain exercises, specific to the diagnosed chronic pain can reduce pain, and improve strength and optimal function. One secondary effect of therapeutic exercising is the release of endorphins, which block pain signals to the brain. Also, the stress hormone levels are reduced after exercising, hence an enhanced state of health and wellbeing.
Accra Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic (APSIC), encourages individuals to seek proper physiotherapy for their chronic pain as it is manageable.
To celebrate World Physiotherapy Day, the clinic is offering a 10% discount for the month of September on a session.
Do not let chronic pain dictate the pace of your life. Take the reins. Seek proper physiotherapy and live a life of no restrictions.
The Writer is a professional Physiotherapist at the Accra Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic. She is a specialist in treating conditions such as musculoskeletal and neurological conditions, sports injuries, vestibular rehabilitation as well as geriatric and pediatric conditions.