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Role of Therapeutic Exercise in Treating Musculoskeletal Pain

Posted by Renew Physical Therapy Portland on Thursday, October 18, 2018

Renew_Physical_Therapy_Role of Therapeutic Exercise in Treating Musculoskeletal Pain

According to a study by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), a physical therapy program can be an effective, high-value, conservative solution for treatment of musculoskeletal pain. Physical therapists give patients the tools they need, such as a home exercise program, to help them manage their condition and achieve long-term health benefits.

What is Musculoskeletal Pain?

The most common type of musculoskeletal pain is lower back pain.  It can be acute (having a rapid onset with severe symptoms) or chronic (long-lasting). Other types of musculoskeletal pain can include tendonitis, joint pain, and stress fractures.

Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Pain

Because musculoskeletal pain can impact different parts of the body; bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves, it can be a different experience for everyone. Common symptoms are listed below.

  • Localized or widespread pain that can worsen with movement
  • Aching or stiffness of the entire body
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Twitching muscles
  • Burning sensation in your muscles

Does Exercise Help with Musculoskeletal Pain?

There are at least three benefits of using therapeutic exercise under the supervision of a skilled physical therapist to manage pain:  increasing strength, increasing mobility, and releasing endorphins.

Increase Strength: Although our standard course of treatment involves improving joint function through mobilization techniques, patient education, and behavioral modification strategies to decrease pain, some conditions receive significant benefit from therapeutic exercise. With regard to low back pain, chronic pain can result from weak core musculature and instability. When your core muscles are weak, this can lead to recurrence of chronic low back pain even after the joint function has been addressed with mobilization techniques. A physical therapist can give you the support you need to regain core muscle strength and allow you to become more active.

Increase Mobility: Chronic musculoskeletal pain is sometimes increased with lack of activity. This lack of activity not only diminishes your muscle strength but also your range of motion and flexibility. Your body was designed to be active.  Compensating with repetitive short movements can prolong the healing process.

Release Endorphins: Exercise also releases endorphins, which help in blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. Regular exercise in a pain-free range of motion can also help to lower stress hormones and help you to sleep better as well. This is beneficial when treating musculoskeletal pain, as one of the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain is sleep disturbance, and our bodies need to sleep to heal.

Therapeutic exercise when performed in a pain-free range of motion can be a great complement to a physical therapy program. Physical activity helps strengthen muscles and reduce weight that would otherwise put more stress on your joints. A physical therapist can help to reduce pain and improve or restore mobility – without expensive surgery or the side effects of medications.

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