What is pain?

First, pain is real. And it is necessary for life. When we have pain, we want to get rid of it.

Pain is our body’s way of warning us about danger. It is why we pull away from a hot surface before we get badly burned. It is why we limp after we twist our ankle. We want to avoid things that hurt us or cause pain. It is unpleasant, which is why we want to avoid it or get rid of it.

Pain is also very common. It has been estimated that at any given time about 20% of people in the world have pain that has lasted more than three months, which means that as a health condition, pain is more common than diabetes or high blood pressure.

But, pain is very complex. Pain depends not only on damage to body parts, but also on the amount of danger our brains perceives. Pain is also affected by our situation and our fears, beliefs and emotions. And, because pain is personal and subjective, it makes it very difficult for others (family, friends and health care providers) to understand.

There are many ways to treat pain. Many people seek medication to help relieve pain.  In some cases, this may not be the best option, as medications may simply mask the pain rather than help deal with the underlying causes. Counselling from a mental health professional can also play an important role in the treatment of pain.

Physiotherapy is another form of treatment that many find helpful in reducing pain.

Physiotherapists are university-educated health professionals that have training in pain management. There are a variety of treatment options that physiotherapists can utilize to help people manage their pain, including:

Exercise Physiotherapists can prescribe exercise specific to your goals and needs following an assessment of how your body moves.

Manual Therapy Physiotherapists often use a hands-on approach to treat pain that can effectively reduce it and improve your range of motion.

Education Physiotherapists will make sure they understand your pain history and that you understand your pain. They’ll help you set realistic treatment and recovery goals.

Teamwork Physiotherapists work directly with you to assess your response to treatment. Active participation in your recovery can impact your success.

Use the Find a Physiotherapist tool on PhysioCanHelp.ca to help get you started on the road to recovery.

Learn more at physiocanhelp.ca.