Consider these two seemingly opposing yet crucial concepts of physical health, rehabilitation, and wellness:
The first point is crucial, because it highlights the fact that there may be something about your posture, movement mechanics, nervous system input, or even muscle strength or tissue flexibility that is putting you at risk for an injury—even if you feel "fine." It nods to the importance of consulting with a physical therapist for injury prevention, and not relying on pain alone (or even the absence of it) as an indicator of health. The second point, however, is what we'd like to talk about in more depth here.
In our practice, we find that many of our patients become so fearful of their pain, that they do anything they can to avoid it. For example, they become reluctant to move the affected body part, even though safe range of motion as prescribed by their therapist will promote localized blood flow, anti-inflammation, and tissue healing. Pain-aversive patients may also fail to follow through with their therapeutic exercises or become overly-reliant on pain medications, both of which carry obvious and potentially serious complications. Unfortunately, this excessive avoidance of pain often ends up delaying a person's healing and keeping the person in pain even longer!
How is this possible? You would think, after all, that by avoiding pain must mean you're avoiding further tissue damage. However, as noted by the second point mentioned above, pain does not necessarily mean that an injury is getting worse. And while we don't necessarily subscribe to the blanket idea of "no pain, no gain," our team does acknowledge that a person recovering from a physical injury will sometimes need to tolerate a certain level of discomfort in order to facilitate proper healing. Of course, there are many types of pain—some of which does actually suggest active damage as opposed to a normal, albeit uncomfortable, part of the healing process. For this reason, working with a physical therapist is extremely important. Our knowledgeable and experienced staff can help you differentiate between these different signals from your body, which, when considered alongside other individual factors, can increase your chance of a safe, speedy, and full recovery.
Are you struggling with acute or chronic pain? Schedule an appointment with our Anchorage physical therapy team today at (907) 677-9112.