Chronic pain is generally defined as pain lasting more than six months. It involves symptoms that persist beyond a normal and expected course of recovery. Chronic pain can range from being a mild nuisance, causing one to modify or avoid certain activities, to a severely intense pain, resulting in an inability to work. Symptoms may be localized to a particular area or located throughout many regions of the body. They may result from an injury or series of injuries, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls or lifting strains.
Chronic pain may also develop from small repetitive strains to the body as a result of one’s occupation or activities. Symptoms may be related to conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and myofascial pain syndrome. Regardless of the cause, there are often biomechanical and/or neuromusculoskeletal dysfunctions that cause the persistence of pain. These dysfunctions respond well to physical therapy.
The physical therapist will take a thorough history from the patient about the nature of the problem and identify the patient’s concerns and goals. During the evaluation, your therapist will search for faulty biomechanical relationships, examine symptomatic tissues, assess neuromuscular control, palpate active trigger points, pinpoint strength deficits, and identify movements or postures that increase or decrease pain. This evaluation helps to determine the source of the pain and guides the course of treatment.
Treatment may include manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, neuromuscular re-education, education about the condition, various modalities, trigger point dry needling, or intramuscular manual therapy.