This involves a range of therapies, both passive and active, designed to rehabilitate and improve movement. Australian physiotherapists are highly skilled practitioners who use scientific evidence based research to manage and improve pain. They are the musculoskeletal experts, however they also treat neuropathic pain and neurological conditions.
In general terms, an active exercise program is needed for people living with persistent (chronic) pain. This means a program that is individually designed for you by your physiotherapist which entails specific exercises which you can practice and build into your own schedule.
The physiotherapist will assess your present physical function and gear the exercises to your personal level of attainment and overall physical health. The physiotherapist will design a treatment plan for you and liaise with other members of your health care team where appropriate. Physios can include your family or carer if you wish.
Physiotherapists are an integral part of the specialist pain management team in hospital based or community pain management clinics. These physios have usually completed further education in pain sciences and operate in a multidisciplinary environment. Effective pain therapy requires a biopsychosocial model of care. This takes into account the physiology of pain alongside the cognitive impacts and drivers and the multiple variables of lifestyle and community living which can generate increased suffering and distress.
Individuals living with chronic pain will often find that it hurts to move and complete physical exercise programs but it is likely to hurt a lot more if you don't. It only takes one week in bed for muscles to begin wasting and joints to stiffen so a stretching and strengthening exercise program can help build fitness and flexibility which in turn enables people to better cope with persistent pain.
Person centred care requires the person living with pain to be empowered to best manage their condition in their community with the support of their health care team. When people with pain are educated about their pain condition and neuroplasticity they can be empowered to make better decisions about their needs and health care options.
The Australian Physiotherapy Association website has a Find a Physio facility.