Physiotherapy for Chronic pain

A British Medical Journal report found that chronic pain affects between one third and half of the population of the UK, which is approximately 28 million adults. Before you consider Physiotherapy for chronic pain, I would like to explain the common causes, symptoms and possible solutions available to you.

Pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain as, “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”

This means that the mind and body cannot be separated, and everyone’s perception of pain is different. The amount of pain felt doesn’t only depend on how much damage has been sustained, but will vary according to what has happened to you in the past.

The pain felt after an injury is a necessary, protective mechanism that makes you aware of the damage and ensures that you take action. It is a warning sign that needs to be acknowledged and responded to, not suppressed. But in some people, this mechanism becomes stuck, leading to chronic or long-term pain.

You feel pain when the nerve endings that are sitting within your tissues are stimulated. There are receptors to pick up lots of different sensations, and some of them are specialised to sense those that may be harmful, such as heat, pressure or chemicals. They communicate those sensations via your spinal cord to your brain, which is when you feel them. When those sensations reach a critical level, you will feel them as pain.

If the nerve endings in a certain area are over-stimulated by constant irritation (such as pressure from the surrounding tissues or inflammation) even those that previously did not detect pain, become pain sensitive. It has been estimated that fascial restrictions put up to 2000 pounds per square inch of pressure on your nerve endings, which is the equivalent of a fully grown draught horse sitting on you! This is how chronic pain (lasting more than three months) develops.

When the pain pathways from your nerve endings are stimulated, the receptors in your brain interpret this as your tissues being damaged and your brain sends pain-killing chemicals to the area and triggers an inflammatory response and the repair process. This is essential when you actually have hurt yourself, but it becomes a problem when the cycle is being continued not by a new injury, but by the continued pressure on the nerve endings from your fascial restrictions.

The pain cycle can become an issue if when an area is injured and then becomes swollen and inflamed, the resulting tightness and scar tissue further irritates it. So the area never has a chance to settle and the nerve endings keep telling your brain that there is damage. So then the inflammation also becomes chronic and the cycle keeps going round and round.

Chronic pain affects all areas of life as it can lead to lack of sleep, fatigue, irritation, depression and anxiety. People’s relationships and jobs suffer and previously enjoyable activities become difficult or even impossible. Conditions such as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME or CFS), Long Covid and fibromyalgia have significant impact on day to day living.

Taking medication is the most common solution offered by doctors but remember that the cause of your pain may be in a completely different part of your body to wear you are feeling the symptoms. Medical investigations to find out if there is any cause of your pain that needs immediate treatment is essential, but medication can mask what you are feeling and does not necessarily address the root cause.

Physiotherapy for chronic pain, such as Fibromyalgia can be very helpful in managing and reducing symptoms.

If you would like to discuss options for Physiotherapy treatment, please feel free to contact us via this website or give us a call on 01279 718331.

Holisticare is a UK based treatment centre, situated in a beautiful, rural Hertfordshire and Essex border location, with easy access via London and Cambridge rail and road links.

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