The Benefits of Physiotherapy for Managing Chronic Pain and Improving Quality of Life
As a famous quote goes ‘Are you moving poorly because you are in pain or are you in pain because you are moving poorly?’. Pain and disability are interdependent that form a vicious cycle. Breaking the chain becomes crucial.
A chronic pain condition is characterized by pain that may be constant or intermittent with remissions. Living with chronic pain is a challenge for sufferers as it hampers their self-care, work-life, and social life. With time, it affects mental or psychological health causing constant worry, despair, and insomnia, and bring down one’s quality of life (QOL) quotient.
Chronic painful conditions commonly include Arthritis, or joint pain (Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative joint diseases); Back and neck pains; Cancer pain arising from a tumor; Headaches; Fibromyalgia; Neurogenic/neuropathic pain that arises from damage to the nerves.
Managing chronic pain is a challenge and usually requires an integrated and multidisciplinary approach majorly involving Physiotherapy; Medication; Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); Coping strategies; Alternative therapies etc. Physiotherapy is a crucial technique for treating chronic pain and improving QOL in general.
Physiotherapy for chronic pain and QOL:
Physiotherapy offers an individualized approach to pain management which involves multitude of therapeutic approaches. A qualified and skilled physiotherapist performs a thorough pain assessment through detailed evaluation, painful triggers, medical history, and lifestyle followed by a tailored treatment plan.
Physiotherapy offers basic and advanced treatments that comprise of Physical agents/Electrotherapeutic modalities like heat, cold, low-level LASER, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation; Manual Therapy which involves hands-on techniques to manipulate joints and soft tissues, and Exercise Prescriptions on land (Pilates/Calisthenics/Strength/Fitness/Gym) or water medium (aquatic therapy) aimed to improve mobility, strength and functionality. PT also offers alternative methods like graded imagery, biofeedback, self-management techniques, that entail posture reeducation, gait retraining, and ergonomic guidance. Regular sessions often help patients with significant reduction in pain levels.
Physiotherapy offers a holistic approach to health by emphasizing not only the physical part of pain management but also taking into account the psychological and emotional aspects of it. Physiotherapy aims to treat the underlying causes of chronic pain, not merely the symptoms thereby providing long-lasting pain relief and significant reduction in risk of recurrences.
To conclude, Physiotherapy is a powerful ally, valuable, and promising holistic, non-pharmacological and individualized treatment approach in the management of chronic pain that alleviates pain, teaches coping with chronic pains, improves QOL, and promotes well-being of the patient.
One should remember, Physiotherapy can be that first vital and crucial step towards pain-free and satisfying life in their journey of chronic pain-relief.
Dr. Peeyoosha Gurudut, MPT, (Ph.D.)
Professor, Dept. of Orthopedic Physiotherapy,
KLE Institute of Physiotherapy, Belagavi