Myths and facts about chronic pain

Every person perceives pain in a unique manner. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK 

Often we use various words to describe the pain we perceive, such as sharp, burning, stabbing or aching pain, but it is hard to know if you feel pain the same way your friend or relative feels it. Meaning it cannot be quantified or measured. It is unique to everyone’s perspective.

However, the unique nature of pain you feel will give your physical therapist some insight into why you are experiencing it.


Research shows that pain can be modified and can change for several reasons:

•The amount or the intensity of the pain you feel is not an indication of the amount of seriousness of a possible injury you have sustained. There may be no injury present.


• The experience of pain can change — pain felt today does not necessarily have to be the same felt tomorrow.

Chronic pain can be associated with low back pain, cervical and thoracic pain, shoulder pain, headache disorders, cancer, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.

Physical therapists recommend specific exercise programmes to help relieve chronic pain.

The benefits of using exercise to manage chronic pain include:

• Maintaining flexibility and movement

• Improving cardiovascular health

• Building and toning muscles

• Improving mood and general wellbeing

• Helping control pain

• Increasing confidence to take part in activities

• Taking back control of your life and reducing your fear


World Confederation of Physical Therapy President Emma Stokes said: “People who have chronic pain tell us that it can be difficult to get or stay active. But a physical therapist can work with you to suggest activities or a programme that are right for you.”

Physical Therapists role in managing pain goes as far as enabling you to manage chronic pain. They not only focus on the biological aspect as the cause but also guide you through your ‘mind-set’ about the pain you are experiencing (psychologically) and the extent of limitation at work and with people around you (socially).

The writer is Physical Therapist, Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre.