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The Role of a Physiotherapist in Pain Treatment

Armin Ghayyur

Armin Ghayyur

An estimated 1 in 5 Canadians lives with chronic pain. In 2019, the Chronic Pain Association of Canada found that chronic pain patients feel a decline in quality of life and an increase in suicide risks and attempts.

Clearly, chronic pain can have an astronomical impact on a person’s regular life. It can affect all areas of that person’s life including work, sleep, recreational activities, and social relationships. 

But what can be done? The good news is that a physiotherapist has a wide variety of tools and techniques that can help with chronic pain. Read on to learn more.

What is a Physiotherapist?

Physiotherapists are University-graduates that are experts on the science of movement. They know how to pinpoint an injury’s root causes. That means that they not only treat pain but also its source.

Your physiotherapist will look for areas of weakness, stiffness, or pain. Then they’ll treat those areas to fix the painful movements to help you move better.

Physiotherapist for Pain Treatment

By definition, chronic pain is pain that extends beyond the time needed for normal tissue healing. Often, there is no evidence of tissue damage or any biological reason for the pain. Yet, the pain exists. 

Physiotherapy can greatly lower or even remove chronic pain completely. A customized treatment plan will allow you to get your life back.

Here are some ways for how to treat pain with the help of physiotherapy. 

Increase Your Physical Strength

A big part of the role of a physiotherapist might be to help you to strengthen your muscles and soft tissues.

Exercise, when you are in pain, may seem counter-intuitive. Yet, the pressure on nerves in joints might be the cause of your discomfort. So, when you make the muscles around those joints stronger, they can now take some pressure off the nerves.

Your physiotherapist will create a customized treatment plan that will likely include exercise as well as other techniques to help you alleviate your symptoms. 

Improve Flexibility

Another aspect of physiotherapy for pain treatment is increasing your body’s flexibility. Likely, your chronic pain has led to improper posture or increased tension.

A physiotherapist can work with you to allow your body to move correctly and teach you how to maintain the correct body mechanics and movement patterns. 

Teach You Safe Movements

How often during the day do you bend, twist, lift, sit, run, or walk? We are rarely aware of often we move our bodies on a daily basis.

Yet, some of your movements could be contributing to your chronic pain. Your physiotherapist will show you how to improve your movements to put less strain on muscles, tissues, and joints. 

This can significantly decrease the pain you experience.

During your initial consultation, the physiotherapist will watch you carry out various movements such as walking and squatting. They will then be able to teach you what you are doing wrong so you can correct those issues.

Soft Tissue Treatments

Manual, hands-on treatments such as massage, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy can improve your range of motion and reduce your pain. These methods target shortened muscle or restricted facia.

These treatments can also desensitize the area of pain. 

Massage, active release therapy, manual lymph drainage, and foam rolling are all ways to work with soft tissue. 

Joint Techniques

As we’ve mentioned, your chronic pain could be related to joints, not muscles. Your physiotherapist might decide to use various joint techniques to target your issues.

Joint techniques include joint mobilisation (done by the therapist’s hands) and joint traction. These techniques allow the joint capsule to stretch. This decreases the pressure and allows more space in the targeted area.

Ultrasound

You might assume that ultrasound is only used as an exploratory tool by doctors.

However, ultrasound can ease tissues, break down scar tissue and increase your blood flow. This all works to reduce swelling and pain. 

Electrical, Hot and Cold Therapies

Physiotherapists have a variety of tools that can give you immediate relief. While you continue to progress on your at-home exercises, your visits to the clinic can also reduce your inflammation and pain.

Ice calms inflammation while heat warms up your muscles so they move better. Both tools can ease chronic pain.

Hot and cold treatments and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are some of the options for chronic pain. 

TENS is a technique that employs electricity to control pain. For chronic pain, low rate TENS will produce opiates in the central nervous system that can relieve pain. 

Iontophoresis introduces chemical ions using a small electrical current through the skin. These chemical ions are applied in gel form to the skin. Then an electrode is placed over the skin to conduct electricity.

Cold laser therapy might be used to decrease inflammation and pain and release endorphins. 

Similarly, microcurrent stimulation emits alpha waves into the brain and increases serotonin and dopamine to alleviate pain naturally.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine that can effectively be used to treat chronic pain.

Some physiotherapists have additional training to be certified to perform this technique.

Acupuncture involves piercing the skin by using very thin needles at specific points on the body. These needles are not painful and many people report feeling immediate pain relief. 

Learn More About Physiotherapy for Pain Treatment 

Thanks for reading! If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic pain, remember that there is hope. 

We hope this article has helped you to see exactly how one of our skilled physiotherapists can help you live a life without pain.

Ready to take the first step? Book an appointment today to get started. 

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