We all have had injuries in our lives, some more than others, but many of these injuries go through the normal tissue healing and remodeling process. After time, the pain from the initial injury subsides and goes away. Pain is a good thing when a new injury occurs because it lets us know that an injury occurred, but what about those new pains or injuries that don’t seem to get better? What if the pain lingers or continues to cause limitations for months, or even years? I want to talk today about how to prevent your new pain from turning into a prolonged issue, and when it might be appropriate for you to seek treatment.
How does acute pain become chronic?
When you have an injury, there are signals sent to the brain that are interpreted as pain. With normal tissue healing the pain typically decreases over time. When acute pain is persistent and intense (as can happen sometimes post-operatively), there can be a peripheral and central nervous system response that leads to the pain becoming chronic.
When should I be concerned?
There’s no set time duration on when acute pain related to an injury should go away because not all injuries are the same, but a general guideline is if it lingers beyond 3-6 months it might be time to seek treatment. With chronic pain, you become more sensitive to things that used to not be painful due to changes in your nervous system. Therefore, when normal daily activities such as walking, stairs, standing and sitting cause pain when they didn’t use to, it might be time to seek treatment.
What can I do?
There are a lot of healthcare specialties that deal with chronic pain and many of them include clinicians within OSI. We can educate you about what’s happening with your nervous system when you have chronic pain, as well as provide a multimodal treatment approach including manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, and in some cases, dry needling to help get you moving again with less pain. The best-evidence approach for chronic pain is aerobic exercise. If you do not do it safely you can do more harm than good. Physical therapy can guide you through that process step-by-step.
In Minnesota, you don’t always need a doctor’s order to come see a physical therapist, so if your pain doesn’t seem to be getting better and is limiting your life don’t hesitate to come see us.
Don’t Let Your New Pain Become a Chronic Condition