One of the main reasons people put off physical therapy is the fear that it will cause or worsen pain. But, if done correctly by a certified physical therapist, physical therapy should not hurt. The phrase “no pain, no gain” may be familiar, but it can lead to a harmful mindset. It can also make people hesitate or avoid physical health changes due to fear of discomfort.
In reality, not getting physical therapy can lead to more pain and longer recovery times. When a muscle is injured, swelling activates painful fibers in the area. This leads to pain even when the body part is not in use due to acute inflammation. When the muscle is used, it activates pain fibers in the injured area and causes pain.
To help with recovery, drink plenty of water and end each exercise with light stretches. This type of discomfort is beneficial and similar to what you may feel after a good workout or new physical activity. If you feel that your pain has worsened after physical therapy, don't ignore it. Everyone responds differently to therapy, so if it's too painful or unpleasant, the therapy can be changed.
It's normal to feel anxious in areas that are most affected by an injury or surgery. If your symptoms seem to be getting worse as a result of your physical therapy routine, report your concerns to your physical therapist. Your therapist can work with you to modify your regimen if an approach doesn't produce the results you need or if something you're doing is causing you pain. Post-treatment discomfort is often referred to as a “physical therapy hangover” because it's similar to the short-lived but annoying phenomenon of a hangover after a night of drinking.
This type of discomfort usually indicates that the pain comes from irritated tissues such as nerves or joints. If your discomfort is excessive, call your physical therapist for more information.The moment you start to experience real pain is the time you should stop your physical therapy regimen and consult with your therapist.