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Why Physiotherapy can be Key to Pain Management

Physiotherapy can be key to a good pain management plan, at Metro Pain Group we are connected to some great physiotherapists. For this article, we’ve partnered with Stephanie Vernon from Inner North Physiotherapy to explain how Pilates can help with chronic pain:

There is a profoundly positive effect of regular exercise on the human body, including increased muscle mass, aerobic capacity and reduced blood pressure. The benefits of regular exercise further extend to those suffering from chronic pain. Exercise has been shown to improve both physical and emotional contributors to chronic pain, including a positive effect on systemic and local inflammatory markers, improved mood states and decreased level of disability, all of which are commonly associated with chronic pain.

Pain is a defined as “An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage”. It is our bodies protective mechanism against our environment and it is vital for our survival. But when a pain has persisted for more than three months, it becomes chronic and more complex in nature, with many factors above and beyond “tissue damage” contributing to the experience

Patients who suffer from chronic pain have often adopted unhelpful strategies and beliefs about their pain and they usually are unaware of this! These may physically manifest in the movements and behaviours of chronic pain sufferers as fear or avoidance of movement, as well as holding muscle tension in an attempt to protect a painful area. Further to these emotional and social influences, chronic pain may also lead to changes at the level of the central nervous system, making the brain more efficient at producing pain and increasing the bodies sensitivity to pain.

A physiotherapist’s role in chronic pain management extends beyond manual therapy, incorporating education, activity modification and importantly, movement-based rehabilitation. Providing an individual with the knowledge to understand their body and why they are experiencing their pain is very empowering, and often a key step in making progress. Additionally, physiotherapists often complete physical rehabilitation in the form of clinical pilates.

Clinical pilates involves the completion of a supervised and individualised rehabilitation program, utilising equipment and body weight exercises. It focuses on strengthening through a joint’s full range of motion, in an attempt to restore normal movement patterns and optimise function. Clinical pilates incorporates key principals of rehabilitation, including graded exposure to previously painful or feared movements. This aims to desensitise the nervous system response to these movements and help to reintroduce them into everyday activities. Additionally, providing rehabilitation in a comfortable and reassuring environment helps to reduce the stress and perceived danger associated with returning to movement and exercise which is often present in those who suffer from chronic pain.

Clinical pilates sessions supervised by a physiotherapist can be an effective and fun way to safely re-introduce exercise participation and build confidence in people who are suffering from chronic pain and the associated fear and loss of movement.

Stephanie Vernon
Inner North Physiotherapy

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