It’s no secret that Americans are in pain. The 2021 National Health Interview Survey reports that nearly 52 million Americans (about 21%) reported experiencing chronic pain. And that doesn’t account for the millions more who have experienced or are experiencing acute pain. Fortunately, physical therapy can be an effective way to reduce both acute and chronic pain.
What Is Acute Pain?
Acute, or short-term, pain is something that almost everyone has experienced. It’s the pain that you get immediately after an injury. For instance, the pain you feel right after spraining an ankle or straining a muscle is acute pain. Physical therapists and other medical professionals consider pain to be acute when it lasts between 7 and 30 days.
Acute pain is the body’s natural response to an injury or condition, and it typically occurs suddenly. By producing acute pain, your body is telling you that you need to temporarily modify your behaviors to avoid making your injury or condition worse.
How Can a Physical Therapist Help With Acute Pain?
Physical therapists are experts at addressing injuries to and conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. This system includes body structures like bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscles. These structures are all common places where people may develop acute pain.
Some ways that a physical therapist can help you address and reduce acute pain include:
- Uncovering the structure where your pain is coming from.
- Educating you about your injury or condition and recovery techniques.
- Using specific PT treatments like manual therapy, functional therapeutic exercise, dry needling, etc. to treat your pain.
- Providing you with a custom at-home exercise program that you can use between sessions and after your PT is over.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Your pain may start out as acute and be caused by an injury or other condition. However, your pain can also become chronic, or long-term, if it lasts for long periods of time. Medical professionals, including physical therapists, classify pain as chronic if it lasts between three and six months.
Pain that lasts this long or longer can be triggered by many different issues. For instance, a strain in your hamstring may lead to acute pain, but this injury could also lead to scar tissue building up in the hamstring muscle, which can lead to chronic pain. Other issues that often lead to chronic pain include:
- Repetitive movements that trigger inflammation.
- Autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Poor posture.
How Can a Physical Therapist Help Address Chronic Pain?
Physical therapists have the skills, knowledge and tools to help you address and reduce chronic pain. For one thing, they’re aware that not all chronic pain is the same. That’s why they will perform a comprehensive clinical assessment of your movement ability, pain and more. The results of this assessment will allow them to better understand your pain. Your assessment results will also help your physical therapist build you a personalized treatment plan around treatments that are designed to:
- Target the root cause of your chronic pain.
- Reduce and manage your chronic pain.
- Improve your overall strength and flexibility.
- Improve your posture while sitting or standing.
- Increase joint mobility and range of motion.
- Educate you about chronic pain and the specific cause of your pain.
- Improve your ability to move efficiently while performing normal activities and tasks.
Find Effective Physical Therapy for Acute & Chronic Pain at REPAIR SI
If you’re feeling acute or chronic pain, REPAIR SI is here to help you address it. Our physical therapists are experts in short- and long-term musculoskeletal pain treatment, and they’re ready to help you take the first step toward easing your pain. All you need to do is fill out the form below to get started.