The Role of Physiotherapy in Chronic Pain
It’s estimated that 7.63 million Canadians aged 15 and older—1 in 4 people—live with chronic pain.* That’s a staggering number. Chronic pain is a big problem, and unfortunately, it’s something that can be poorly managed by the medical system, often because the focus is put on temporary fixes, rather than addressing the underlying problem itself.
Enter: physiotherapy. Here, we’ll talk about the ways our Toronto physiotherapy clinic can help you in treating and managing chronic pain, as well as in preventing pain from becoming chronic in the first place.
Assessing all the contributing factors to your pain
The first big piece in physiotherapy’s role in chronic pain is understanding clearly where the pain is coming from. From a medical perspective, often the approach is to find different structures that are broken, but with physiotherapy, it’s about assessing the way you move and the impact it has.
We’ll look at factors such as deconditioning, where you may have muscles that aren’t as strong or don’t have the endurance needed to perform the daily tasks you need to accomplish. We’ll also take a holistic look at the body and consider things like sleep hygiene, your diet and nutrition, hydration, stress level, and the way you go about your day (for example, the ergonomics of sitting at your desk). We’ve created this step-by-step guide to help you set up your desk better to limit pain. Make sure to check it out and take notes if you notice things are off with your current desk setup.
It’s important for us to understand the different contributors to your chronic pain, beyond any actual structural diagnoses, like arthritis, spinal stenosis or rotator cuff symptoms, and how these factors all come into play as a puzzle piece to the bigger problem. Often, people will get diagnoses that don’t always translate to symptoms, or symptoms remain even when the issue is
addressed, which is why lifestyle management is such an important part of what we do at our physiotherapy clinic.
Addressing how to navigate daily activities
We’ll give you suggestions on which activities you should be doing more of, and which you should be avoiding. For example, cardiovascular-based activities like biking, swimming and even going for walks can be really beneficial for the whole body as it works to regulate itself to manage pain better. We’ll also work to find the activity levels that work for you with things you need to do that cause pain, from climbing stairs to lifting.
Setting you up with an exercise program
Rather than avoiding activities forever, it’s about building up your body’s tolerance to handle those activities and demands on a daily basis and beyond. We’ll work with you to understand the movements you’re having difficulty with from a weakness, endurance or pain standpoint, then address it as effectively as possible. Through a graded exercise program, we’ll slowly
increase your exposure to activities and movements.
We start with simple, more whole body type movements such as a squat or shoulder movement, which is often more effective than small, isolated movements. Through this functional exercise, we’ll keep in mind the movements you have to do daily, like getting up from sitting or weight-bearing.
Specific techniques we use at Endeavour
At our physiotherapy clinic, we use several different techniques that we have found to be really effective in treating and managing chronic pain, including electro acupuncture and RedCord.
Electro acupuncture is incredibly effective for managing your nervous system and nerve-related symptoms, whether it’s nerve pain or just pain in areas where nerves are hyper-sensitized. Electro acupuncture can both reduce the sensitivity of the nerve and activate muscles around those areas that can now better protect your body.
RedCord will help offload your body weight to do functional movements. If you experience pain putting your body into a certain position, we can replicate that by offloading a portion of your body weight. Through that process, you’ll be able to build up tolerance to the movement by doing it pain-free, with the goal of building up tolerance to be able to do those movements without the support.
Looking for a physiotherapy clinic in Toronto? Contact us at Endeavour to learn more and book your treatment.
* Government of Canada, 2020: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/corporate/about-health-canada/public-engagement/external-advisory-bodies/canadian-pain-task-force/report-2020.html