Chronic Pain VS Acute Pain

So you are pain free – what now?

The worst thing you can do is STOP your Physiotherapy Treatment.  Pain free does NOT always mean problem free.  In fact, you’re Trained Physio has likely only addressed the superficial presentation of the problem.  To truly and permanently fix the problem we have to go deeper. 

Pain Education

Physio’s will seperate injuries into acute and chronic – Let me educate you on the difference between the two.

Acute Injuries 

  • A new injury, usually stemming from a specific event/incident with a definable start point. This type of pain can be more intense and irritable, often quite a specific location of pain.  
  • Your East Perth Physio’s are able to get acute injuries ‘pain free’ quicker than chronic injuries (depending on the type of injury of course). However, this does not mean our your job is done yet! 
  • For the first 24 hours to 1 week of an acute injury there can be a large amount of pain and inflammation.  This can make it difficult to determine the full extent of what is going on in regards to; damage to the injured tissue, surrounding tissue and other structures, how your body will respond (taking into account your general health, pre injury strength, age, lifestyle stress etc) and how long the rehabilitation will take. 
  • We also have to address what exposed you to injury.  Was it a movement dysfunction? A pre existing weakness? A mobility or strength imbalance? An underlying pathology? A programming and load issue? In every single one of these situations, if we do not find it AND fix it, then you are more than likely going to injure yourself again in some way or another.  Or the injury will not be fully rehabilitated and inturn become a chronic condition which becomes much more complicated and takes much longer to fix.

Chronic Injuries

  • A pain or injury that lasts more than 3 months is considered chronic.  A chronic pain/injury can be constant, episodic or reoccurring.  Not only does this causes a sustained pain state, causing repeated trauma to the area of concern, it also causes the body to make compensations, meaning there is often multiple contributing factors that now sustain the initial injury. 
  • These types of injuries can be gradual and insidious (meaning no specific identifiable cause/event) or can be a long term continuation of an acute injury. 
  • Without any fancy science or evidence let’s just think logically – you have lived with this pain for a long time, do you really think one or two sessions is a realistic expectation to properly fix the issue? 
  • As above, you may be pain free, excellent! but that doesn’t mean it won’t come back.  In most chronic cases we expect and actually plan for it to come back a few times at least.  This is normal in the rehab experience, and hence why a long term commitment to Physiotherapy rehabilitation is important. 
  • Chronic, long term injuries are strongly associated with central sensitisation, de-conditioning local to the injury but also throughout the entire body affecting both strength and endurance and psychological factors which all work to maintain the pain state, which prolongs recovery timelines. 

Treatment Plan

In short – committing to the entirety of your Trained Physio’s guided rehabilitation plan will ensure you achieve the best results – as fast as possible!

At Trained Physio we use treatment planning to provide a clear management plan that both you and your Physio agree on.  This is extremely important that both Physio and Patient are on the same page when you map out the process from symptom relief, return to function, strength and conditioning and the achievement of your goals.  We can gradually transition you into self management strategies with a spaced out review or maintenance sessions as required.

East Perth Trained Physio

Did you know at Trained Physio we have a fully equipped rehabilitation facility?  Check out the details here.  Physiotherapy has several goals including promote healing, reduce pain, avoiding aggravation, optimising physical function and global strengthening to restore normal movement patterns.  To see how I can help you  BOOK ONLINE TODAY

Written by: Olivia Strelein

BSc. Physiotherapy (Honours)
BSc. Exercise and Sport Science
Personal Trainer