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Physical Therapy for Chronic Pain – Information, Exercises, and More

Chronic pain can be difficult to deal with on a physical and emotional basis. 

However, many treatments can help address and relieve your chronic pain — including physical therapy for chronic pain.

Continue reading to learn more about how chronic pain can affect the body and the type of treatments that are available to you.



What is Chronic Pain?

Nearly 50 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain.

Chronic pain is classified as pain or discomfort that lasts longer than three months, or beyond the expected healing time for the specific condition or ailment.

Chronic pain can often be perplexing to health providers, as it can occur even if there are no new causes of pain occurring in the body. Chronic pain can alter the way your brain alerts the body of pain.

Here’s a quick summary of how chronic pain can affect the pain centers in the brain:

  1. When you are experiencing pain from an injury or disease, the nerves in the problem area send information to the brain. The brain analyzes this information to determine whether any action needs to be taken to prevent harm.
  2. When you experience constant or chronic pain, the brain and nervous system become more sensitive to processing pain.
  3. The cells that conduct sensation in the nervous system also become more sensitive, making it easier for the brain to interpret sensations as pain even if the signal is not warranted. This change can induce and maintain chronic symptoms.
  4. With chronic pain, the brain can interpret sensations as pain even if there is no tissue damage present. Pain centers activate in many different areas of the brain, including those that control fight or flight responses, movement, emotions, and problem-solving. Nearly any system of the body can be affected by chronic pain.
  5. As you continue to feel chronic pain, sensations, emotions, and thoughts increase about the problem area. Any type of sensory input can cause pain centers to activate, as the brain is on “high alert” to any sensations you may feel in the problem area.


What Causes Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain can be caused by acute injuries or painful diseases such as:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • And more

Due to the nature of chronic pain, it can develop in nearly any part of the body.

Chronic Pain Symptoms

Symptoms for chronic pain can vary based on:

  • The individual’s experience
  • The frequency of pain
  • The severity of pain
  • Where the pain is location
  • And more

Some commonly reported symptoms for chronic pain include:

  • Overall body pain
  • Sudden, sharp stabbing pains
  • Pain increases when you think about it
  • Pain is triggered by upsetting circumstances in your life
  • Recurring pain causes you to feel anxious or depressed
  • Fatigue 
  • And more

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, be sure to communicate with your doctor so they can determine if there is an underlying condition or different ailment at play causing you to experience pain.

Chronic Pain Treatment

There are many different treatments for chronic pain, most of which may be used in combination to treat your symptoms.

The following treatments can be used to address chronic pain:

How Effective Is Physical Therapy for Chronic Pain?

Physical therapy for chronic pain is an effective method for treating chronic pain. This is because physical therapists are experts in treating pain and discovering the underlying source/s of pain.

A physical therapist looks for any areas of weakness or stiffness that can be contributing to your pain and creates a customized treatment plan to address those areas. 

At In Motion O.C., we have treated hundreds of patients with chronic pain. We are confident that we can work with you to help meet your treatment goals and improve your chronic pain symptoms.

Physical Therapy for Chronic Pain: Best Chronic Pain Exercises

Let’s take a look at some of the exercises that may be included in a treatment plan for chronic pain.

Note: It is important to consult with a Doctor of Physical Therapy before attempting any exercises on your own.

Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises

These exercises are a great way to increase movement in the body without adding stress to the joints, making them a perfect warm-up before strengthening exercises are implemented.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercises are used to target any weakness in the body that could be contributing to your chronic pain. Sometimes this includes using machines, resistance bands, or your own body weight under the guidance of your physical therapist.

Exercises for Pain Relief

Pain relief exercises focus on increasing the movement in areas of the body where you are experiencing pain to help improve your range of motion, flexibility, and strength.


Gentle stretching can be used under the guidance of a physical therapist to help gradually introduce movement to stiff and painful areas in the body.


How In Motion O.C. Can Help With Chronic Pain

As the #1 rated physical therapy clinic on Yelp! and Google, we are no stranger to implementing physical therapy for chronic pain. We take pride in working with our patients one-on-one to ensure that their physical therapy treatment plan is designed to help them achieve their treatment goals for their chronic pain.

Don’t let your chronic pain go unaddressed for another moment. Let In Motion O.C. help you get back on the road to recovery.

Request a free screening and schedule an appointment at one of our physical therapy locations today. 

In Motion O.C.