Pain can be a warning sign that something is wrong; for example, when you sprain your ankle, or when your back hurts after shoveling snow. MSK, or musculoskeletal pain includes neck, joint, limb, low back, bone, and chronic widespread pain.
Acute pain is temporary pain caused by injury. Your treatment plan for acute pain may include manual therapy, assisted stretching, ultrasound, acupuncture, and laser, among others. Exercise is good for the majority of MSK pain conditions, but not all exercise is equal.
Chronic pain is pain that persists for a long time, and it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose and treat. When your pain persists there are physiotherapists ready to assist you with a holistic approach to your pain management.
Physiotherapists are skilled in assessing and treating these temporary and acute painful MSK conditions caused by injury. Physiotherapists can help relieve your pain.
Acute pain management
Treatment is effective for acute pain relief in conditions such as neck and back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle and ligament sprains and strains, and many others. Research shows that getting pain relief in the early states of an injury helps speed up recovery. Unrelieved pain can actually interfere with the healing process and result in more problems.
Your physiotherapist will also guide the rehabilitation of your injury and show you techniques to help prevent re-injury. This will minimize the chance of experiencing the same pain again.
Chronic pain management
According to the Chronic Pain Association of Canada, more than 18% of Canadians suffer from severe chronic pain, yet many studies suggest that it is under-treated. Assessment and treatment by a physiotherapist who is skilled in chronic pain management can help.
Your physiotherapist will help you better understand your pain, with pain self-management strategies, and with pain-relieving techniques. Together, you will develop a recovery plan with the goals of reducing your pain, improving your function, and enhancing the quality and enjoyment of your life.
Your treatment plan should include a strong educational component and instruction on breathing, body awareness and relaxation techniques. Therapeutic exercises are a critical part of your treatment. These will help you get back to normal and more comfortable movement patterns. Your physiotherapist will also help you to understand what triggers your pain and how to manage these triggers. Hands-on treatment will be an important part of your rehabilitation program and will allow you to perform the physical exercises with greater ease and less pain.
Research shows that patients whose pain is managed by an interdisciplinary healthcare team will benefit from significant pain reduction. Interdisciplinary approaches to chronic pain management result in a 14% to 60% reduction in chronic pain, or 20% to 30% pain reduction on average. Interdisciplinary approaches to chronic pain management also increase mobility and physical activity by approximately 65%, as compared to a 35% increase reported by patients receiving conventional medical care.
Your physiotherapist brings a unique skillset to your healthcare team, and will work in collaboration with you and others managing your chronic pain condition.
The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) represents physiotherapists, physiotherapist assistants and physiotherapist students across Canada. CPA members are rehabilitation professionals dedicated to the health, mobility and fitness of Canadians.
Physiotherapists are primary health care professionals who combine their in-depth knowledge of the body and how it works with specialized hands-on clinical skills to assess, diagnose and treat symptoms of illness, injury or disability.
More than 20,000 registered physiotherapists work in Canada, in private clinics, general and rehabilitation hospitals, community health centres, residential care and assisted-living facilities, home visit agencies, workplaces, and schools.