The phrase “no pain, no gain” is often used to describe what’s necessary in order to achieve benefits from workouts. In some cases it’s also used when referring to physical therapy, which can wind up scaring patients and giving them the wrong impression before their first visit. At Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates, we’d like our patients to know that while there is some truth to that statement, it’s important to maintain an open dialogue about what you’re experiencing in order for us to make your treatment as comfortable as possible for you.
Pain is essentially an unpleasant sensory experience associated with either actual or potential damage to tissues. When pain occurs, it’s usually our body’s way of telling us something isn’t working right. In general, there’s a certain level of pain that’s acceptable and normal after exercising. In most cases this is delayed onset muscle pain, which is a dull ache of muscles following a strenuous workout that should subside within 3-5 days. This type of pain is no cause for alarm, while longer-lasting pain typically means something is wrong.
For extended pain or any serious injury, physical therapy is often sought out with the goal of improving strength and flexibility and reducing overall pain. While some pain be necessary during treatment, it’s important to keep in mind that this is entirely dependent on the type of injury, your level of pain and your pain threshold.
Patients with certain conditions like shoulder impingement syndrome (a group of painful shoulder problems) will receive treatment that’s pain-free, as additional pain can further injure shoulder tissues. For other conditions, though, like frozen shoulder (stiffness and pain in shoulder), treatment includes stretches and movements that can be painful but are necessary to regain range of motion.
Another example of potential pain is when physical therapy is given after surgery. Some patients will be able to go through their treatment without much pain, but others who wait too long or start getting stiff after surgery will have to push a little harder and endure a certain level of pain. Once again, this is completely essential in order to help these patients undo damages and restore their abilities.
What you should understand is physical therapy usually focuses on healing damaged tissues. Depending on the stage of recovery and state of the patient, pain may be involved, especially if tightened tissues are stretched or weak muscles strengthened. Your pain will be individual to you and will never be more than you can handle.
During your first visit, a physical therapist will evaluate you with tests that will be slightly painful to get an idea of the level of injury and what makes it better or worse. Throughout the entire treatment process, your physical therapist will also ask if your pain is sharp or throbbing, if it occurs at the end of a motion or if it continues on after the exercise. These are signs that something else may be wrong and that a change is needed. At every step of the way, our Shelby and Kings Mountain physical therapists will monitor your pain and make adjustments to the treatment program when they are required.
The concept of “no pain, no gain” in physical therapy carries some truth to it, but should be no reason to ever fear going to see a physical therapist, where the goal is to reduce pain, not create it. If you’re experiencing lasting pain of any sort, visit Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates at either of our two locations in Shelby and Kings Mountain, NC. Call 704-471-0001 to schedule an appointment.