Chronic pain refers to pain that has been present for six months or more. Chronic pain may result from a previous injury or come on without any known history of an accident, injury, or disorder.
Common conditions leading to chronic pain include: chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, TMJ disorders, and vulvodynia. With the presence of chronic pain comes anxiety, stress, depression, fear, and other emotions that can be debilitating to a patient, interfering with one’s ability to perform work tasks, participate in recreational and sporting activities, take care of children, perform household chores and daily activities, or even sleep. The added stress placed on a patient with chronic pain can in turn effect a patient’s immune system and ability to heal, increasing the intensity and frequency of the pain.
This creates a vicious pain cycle. Since each patient will present with a unique set of symptoms, the therapist may utilize many different techniques to help the patient manage his/her pain. Some of these techniques include: soft tissue mobilization, myofascial release, visceral mobilizations, joint mobilizations, neuro re-education, relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, postural correction, compensation techniques, modalities, etc. It is important for the patient to understand his/her pain and what to expect from therapy; therefore patient education plays a major role in our treatment of chronic pain conditions.