By Seth Oberst, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS
Most injuries will heal in 3 months’ time, and pain lasting longer than that should be considered chronic. Once someone experiences pain for greater than 3 months, treatment must consider not only the anatomical “source” of the pain, but the neurological components that are starting to add to the patient’s pain.
Why would someone continue to have pain when there is no longer considerable tissue damage?
Pain is our nervous system’s way of responding to something threatening, like an alarm. As with any alarm system, there can be false alarms. When your body experiences pain chronically, your nervous system begins to become overly sensitive to things that didn’t use to hurt.
So, pain spreads, affects your sleep, your ability to concentrate, and makes moving smoothly and efficiently challenging.
Chronic pain is the result of an overly sensitive nervous system.
Fortunately, Atlanta PT can help you avoid a life dependent on medications, injections, and many times surgery…all of which don’t get rid of the pain. Here is how we go about it.
- Determine why your nervous system is so sensitive – is it because you’re stressed at work, stuck in a particular position for too long, have a history of trauma like a car accident or work-injury? We get to the bottom of WHY your body systems are sounding the alarm causing you to feel pain.
- Reduce the perception of danger by teaching the body to move in new ways that are not scary or painful. This includes teaching you how to relax your muscles and reduce the excessive tension that occurs when we are trying to protect ourselves.
- Increase confidence and fitness. The less you move and the weaker you are, the more challenging and thus threatening tasks become. At Atlanta PT, we gradually build up strength and confidence by restoring the natural ways of moving.
- Reduce stress which increases our fight/flight response and makes us more tense and painful. This often involves restoring healthy sleep patterns and routines that promote a more natural lifestyle.
Our bodies are highly adaptable and when we harness the ability of the body to heal itself, chronic pain fades away, as many of our clients have experienced!