Most of the time, spring cleaning is looked upon as an opportunity to get one’s house in order, to get organized, to start anew, along with the season. This spring, consider that not only is it an opportunity to clean, but it might be an opportunity to help with chronic pain. Exercise, while not a cure-all, might be an unexpected boon to chronic pain sufferers who have long been told that inactivity and rest might be the solution.
It should be noted that any alternative to your current prescriptions or doctor’s recommendations should be reviewed with your physician first, as the studies on this are relatively young and we need more studies in the future to be certain about any benefits. Additionally, these benefits are not any kind of miracle cure, and may not occur for you, as a chronic pain sufferer.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is considered to be a pain that outlasts the typical time it takes tissue to heal – on average, twelve weeks. Chronic pain can be responsible, or add to, anxiety, depression, disability, interruption of sleep patterns and more. The condition has been known about for some time, but the go-to treatment has long been considered less movement, rather than more. In recent years, however, studies have been conducted to assess the benefits of exercise in reducing chronic pain’s severity.
What is the Benefit of Exercise for Chronic Pain Sufferers?
The studies examined many different aspects of chronic pain, as well as the effect that sticking to a regimen of exercise had on it. They examined the effect on the severity of the pain, the physical function of the individual, the quality of life and psychological function of the subject, and adverse effects on chronic pain from exercise. The results were promising:
- Severity of pain results showed that exercise primarily reduced the severity of chronic pain, while very few people showed no results. Not all results were consistent, because any positive or negative change was inconsistent among participants.
- Physical function was most reported amongst participants, even if that function increase was relatively small
- The majority of adverse effects were things like muscle pain or soreness, not an increase in chronic pain, as the soreness went away within a few weeks
- Quality of life and psychological function study results varied considerably, but there were no negative effects, which at least bodes well for future such studies of chronic pain
While more studies need to be conducted, the results are promising, even if the measurable improvement is small. Perhaps exercise will one day be found to work in conjunction with other treatments as an overall regimen designed to assist in the reduction of chronic pain. Additionally, the effects of exercise on quality of life and psychological function varied. Many of these results could be attributed to the fact that chronic pain is different for each person, so the approach may have to be tailored to each person suffering from chronic pain.