Physiotherapy helps people with long term chronic pain develop the skills they need to manage their condition, increase their activity and improve their quality of life.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is usually defined as pain that persists beyond the normal time that tissues take to heal following an injury. Most soft tissue injuries heal up within weeks, although some can take several months to completely heal.If a pain continues longer than 3-6 months, it is usually described by as “chronic” pain. It is helpful to understand the differences between chronic and acute pain.

Acute pain: short-term pains act as an alarm, telling us that something is wrong. While most minor pains are easily treated and quickly forgotten, others are a sign of something more serious that we shouldn’t ignore. For example, the pain of a broken leg is helpful because it makes us rest the leg until it heals.

Chronic pain: persistent pain though often serves no useful purpose. The pain messages linked to long-term conditions such as back pain or arthritis are not helpful, and can be annoying and sometimes devastating.

Over time, the pain may affect how we function, including our ability to work and our sleep patterns. It can also have a negative effect on our family and friends.The causes of chronic pain are not always clear but in some conditions the pain is thought to be due to the pain signals through the nerve fibres becoming confused. The brain is then unable to understand the signals properly. Chronic pain can affect any part of the body and people of any age, including children.

How can physiotherapy help?

Physiotherapists often see patients with chronic pain on an individual basis. Our physiotherapist will assess you and work with you to agree a treatment plan. They will take in to consideration factors like lifestyle, sleep patterns, activities, nutrition and stress management. A plan may include manual treatment, however, treatment is more likely to include advice about movement, posture and finding ways of achieving your goals.

It is important to have regular reviews with our physiotherapist and ask to see them if your condition changes.