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Talking About Pain with a Physical Therapist

There are many reasons why people are hesitant to get help when they are experiencing pain. Although chronic pain is one of the most common reasons to seek out physical therapy, many of us lack the confidence to discuss it with others. Athletes may have been told to “push through” or to “tough it out,” while other patients may learn to hide physical discomfort from others. Some aren’t even aware of all the ways physical therapy can help alleviate pain. Let’s be clear; you should never push through or hide a chronic condition.

When beginning your treatment at i’move, you will receive a one-on-one session with a physical therapist to assess your pain and discuss a treatment plan. During this time, it’s important to have a serious conversation about your pain. We are ready and eager to meet you wherever you may be on your recovery journey, from mild chronic pain to “I-can’t-get-out-of-bed” pain.

In order to start the journey to better health, we need to acknowledge what hurts.

Validate Yourself
Physical therapy with a medical professional is such a validating experience. You are not just “complaining” about back or knee pain – you are a patient with a serious and treatable medical condition. That being said, you can take that first step by acknowledging your own pain. The stiffness and aching joints post-injury/surgery are not just a fact of life. It may be a diagnosable medical condition. And with valid treatment, you can take back control of your body.

Therefore, never be afraid to seek medical advice for consistent joint or muscle pain. It can feel difficult to be vulnerable about pain, but the relief of treatment outweighs the cons. It is ok to say, “this hurts, and I want to do something about it.”

Be Specific
As you can imagine, vague descriptions can only go so far. Consider various aspects of your pain such as:

  • Timing – when and how often does it occur?
  • Type – what does your pain feel like? Is it stabbing, tender, sore?
  • Context – what does pain prevent you from doing? Playing with kids, cooking, carrying groceries, etc.

Rate Your Pain
When rating pain from 1-10, one person’s 7/10 may be different from another’s. To clarify, describe what the number means to you. A 4, for example, may mean “noticeable but not interfering with my day-to-day activities,” while a 5 and up might mean actively seeking pain relief. Whatever your number means, try and provide a concrete example to clarify your rating.

Take Action
With these factors in mind, we encourage you to talk to a professional about your pain. You don’t need a doctor’s note or approval to start recovery. Scheduling a pain assessment appointment is the first step toward a customized, one-on-one treatment plan with a certified physical therapist. This 30 minute consultation will determine the source of your pain and whether or not you are a good candidate for physical therapy.

Whether you’re working on an injury post-surgery, working on a pain point, or want to help prevent a future injury from developing, physical therapy helps you heal more quickly and recover more fully.

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