How many miles of nerves do you think are in your body right now?
Believe it or not, there are over 45 miles of nerves running through your body like a superhighway. You have one lane roads, 8-lane highways, on and off ramps, and even traffic jams. All those miles of nerves can act like I-85 on a happy sunny day at 2pm. Nice flowing traffic with all lanes move at the speed limit.
However, just like traffic on a rainy day, the nerves in your body can slow and jam, causing delays all over. When you have an injury, your nerves become irritated, disrupted, and oversensitive. When the pain has been there for 6+ weeks (just like if it’s been snowing for a couple days), the traffic is really slow, and all your nerves are on edge and irritated. Your entire nervous system and body also become irritated and sensitive. Activities that did not hurt before are now very painful and sometimes unbearable. Previously, you could walk for 2 hours but now 10 minutes is too painful.
Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than several months (variously defined as 3 to 6 months, but certainly longer than "normal healing"). It's a very common problem. Recent clinical studies suggest the following:
- About 25.3 million U.S. adults (11.2 percent) had pain every day for the previous 3 months.
- Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) had severe pain.
- Individuals with severe pain had worse health, used more health care, and had more disability than those with less severe pain.
What Types of Conditions Sometimes Result in Chronic Pain?
People can suffer with chronic pain in a number of areas of the body. We commonly treat patients that have chronic pain in the follow areas:
- Headaches caused by postural syndromes and work-related activities
- Neck pain caused by car accidents, postural syndromes, work-related activity
- Lower back pain caused by car accidents, lifting injuries, slip-and-falls
- Hip pain as a result of osteoarthritis or injury
- Knee pain as a result of osteoarthritis and sports injuries
Problems Associated with Chronic Pain
Patients that are experiencing chronic pain often have some or all of the following:
- Fear of performing daily activities
- Tightness and stiffness
- Increased use of pain pills
- New or worsening conditions
- Circulation problems
How Physical Therapy Can Help
Emotions, depression, anxiety, nervous system hypersensitivity, tissue damage, and pain caused in the brain are all components of chronic pain that have been successfully addressed by:
- Patient education - physical therapists help chronic pain patients understand that chronic pain is complex involving more than damaged muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joint tissues.
- Hands-on treatment - soft tissue and spinal manipulative techniques are often effective to help decrease pain and increase mobility.
- Graded exercise programs - improving your strength and endurance can make it easier to move around during the day. Consider daily activities like getting out of a chair or a car, climbing stairs, or walking long distances. These are daily activities that graded exercise programs, provided by a physical therapist, can help with.
- Posture and body mechanics instructions - understanding how to properly lift, sit, bend, reach, and perform specific daily activities can help. Moreover, progressively recovering normal movements through stretching and strengthening can assist in the return to normal daily activities.
If you suffer with chronic pain, give us a call to learn how we can help you out.