When you are in pain, no matter the reason, the last thing you may feel like doing is moving. And for those who live with chronic pain, getting up, out, and moving can seem impossible. They may fear that physical activity will make their pain worse.
However, in some instances, movement can be the best way to reduce or even cure your pain. Research demonstrates that exercise and movement can help reduce pain and improve function for those with musculoskeletal pain.
Let’s examine how pain works. When you sprain your back, neck, or ankle, you often feel the pain that is sharp and severe, known as acute pain. The body then tenses up and limits movement, a natural response to protect itself from further injury. This response is generally short-term, usually about 24-48 hours, but if it lasts longer, it can impact your daily life in negative ways.
When Acute Pain becomes Chronic Pain
When this happens, acute pain becomes chronic pain that can last for weeks, months, or even years. Past injuries, nerve damage, osteoarthritis, slipped discs, and fibromyalgia can all cause chronic pain. If you have chronic pain, you know the drill. You may feel:
- Throbbing pain
- Dull aches
- Burning sensation
- Irregular shooting pain
Also, you may also have symptoms such as:
- Extreme exhaustion
- Lack of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood swings
- Muscle weakness
- Low energy
All of these things can affect your daily life, mental health, and self-esteem, making you feel depressed, angry, anxious, and frustrated.
Benefits of Movement for Pain Management
Recent evidence on lower limb osteoarthritis shows a clear relationship between exercise and pain management. Regularly doing strengthening exercises can significantly reduce pain. And that improving function through use and movement has “flow-on” effects, including reduced depression, reduced disability, improved physical conditioning, and improved quality of life.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits associated with movement and pain management:
- Helps the body reduce pain using its built-in pharmacy.
- Helps you understand that a little pain with movement does not mean you are doing further harm.
- Keeps you active so that you can continue to live your life.
- Reduces stress and improves mood.
- Improves your body’s immune function.
- Maintains your general health.
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight.
- Keeps your brain in shape.
Is There a Right Type of Exercise for Pain Management?
As we often stress here at GR8NESS, everyone is different, and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. But there is often a body of evidence pointing in a particular direction. The type of exercise and movement may need to be specific to your pain problem. An approach combining strength and conditioning, balance and agility, aerobic conditioning, and stretching and relaxation is generally considered the most effective for pain management.
What If I Feel Pain When I Move?
Sometimes, feeling pain when you exercise can discourage you from continuing. This is understandable, as no one likes to feel pain. Keep in mind that exercise and movement is just one piece of the pain management puzzle. It is important that you consult with your physician if you have any worries or concerns about the pain you feel. Together you can plan an effective approach to exercise and movement.