Exercise is essential in the treatment of chronic pain
Exercise is medicine and an important strategy used to assist in the management of pain conditions. The right exercise can help those with chronic pain gradually engage more in activities of enjoyment and daily living. Significant research has shown that exercise is essential in the treatment of chronic pain as it is effective in reversing the downward cycle of deconditioning or worsening pain. As well as the physical benefits, exercise has the added advantage of improving mental wellbeing and quality of life, while reducing the risk of comorbidities.
Exercise Physiology for chronic pain
An Exercise Physiologist is the expert in exercise and can guide you through an exercise program to manage pain. As an Allied Health professional, their education and training provide a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology, so they understand the mechanisms of pain.
An Exercise Physiologist will use exercise to manage pain by strengthening and mobilising joints, correcting movement patterns, and improving the sequence of activation through each kinetic chain. They will help you find the right type and intensity of exercise to minimise the exacerbation of symptoms and gradually build your exercise tolerance, which is often difficult to achieve independently. To reduce the risk of developing comorbidities such as Hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes or Coronary Artery Disease, it’s crucial to stay physically active. Understandably, those with chronic pain are at increased risk as the nature of pain often leads to avoidance of physical activity, despite evidence which shows it to be highly beneficial.
It’s important to find a practitioner you ‘click with’
Seeking the help of an Exercise Physiologist is recommended if you are unsure what exercise you should be doing or if you are concerned about exercise increasing your symptoms. Everyone experiences pain in a different way, so look for a practitioner who prescribes highly individualised programs that consider your goals and lifestyle, and who is able to tweak the program based on how your body responds. As well as expert exercise prescription, an Exercise Physiologist is there to support you and answer your questions, so it’s important to find a practitioner you ‘click with’. Look for an Exercise Physiologist that will work holistically, communicating with other doctors and health professionals about medications or other treatments you may be using, so that you’re getting to most out of your health team.
Most Exercise Physiologists offer supervised sessions as well as home exercise programs, so regardless of your budget they can help you get moving. Exercise Physiology services are eligible for private health rebates or you may be able to receive Medicare rebates under an Enhanced Primary Care Plan; speak to your GP to find out if you’re eligible. If you want to know more about using exercise as medicine to treat and manage chronic pain, get back into physical activity and do the things you love doing, find your local exercise physiologist via essa.org.au/find-aep.
Helpful resources: Chronic Pain Australia