Is it Normal to Feel Pain After Physical Therapy?

No one wants to add more pain when undergoing physical therapy sessions but it's normal for patients to experience some discomfort or even mild pains during their recovery process.

Is it Normal to Feel Pain After Physical Therapy?

No one wants to add more pain to that. The simple answer is no, but that doesn't mean you won't feel any discomfort or pain. After all, physical therapy deals with the recovery of injuries or surgeries and, therefore, it is normal for you to initially feel anxious in the areas most affected. Physical therapy doesn't hurt if done by a certified physical therapist.

However, physical therapy should never go from discomfort and pain to real pain. The moment you start to experience real pain is the point at which you should stop your physical therapy regimen and consult with your therapist. You may need to modify your regimen to achieve your goals without creating pain or causing more harm. This is a controlled injury, similar to surgery, it is controlled damage to the body in order to heal.

The normal and natural result of strengthening is pain or a low level of pain in the general muscle area within the next day or two, and pain is experienced mainly when using the muscle (see microtrauma above). However, the muscle heals in the next 24 to 48 hours and is better able to work, and therefore, during the eight weeks, the muscle becomes stronger. You can do more work for longer periods. Injured muscle fibers are completely healed, so there is no more pain, unless the muscle is overused in a single macrotrauma or in a repetitive microtrauma.

Patients usually go to physical therapy because there's something in their bodies that just doesn't seem right to them. They may feel increased pain in a joint, in a general region of the body, or within the muscles. Ultimately, patients want physical therapy to help them feel better; however, some patients are surprised when muscle pain may be present the day after a therapy session. After physical therapy, you may feel some general pain in your muscles, especially those that you don't use often.

The ability to help you minimize or completely stop prescription pain medications, including opioids, is another important justification for choosing post-surgical physical therapy. If you're feeling pain, or if you're just not sure, seeking advice from a medical expert, such as a physical therapist, may be your best option. However, no therapy should cross the line between unpleasant and painful through good contact with your physical therapist. As the muscle heals, such as rest, gentle exercise, and anti-inflammatory agents, such as medicines and ice, you'll feel less pain using your muscles, and your muscle will be able to do more with a lower level of pain.

No, physical therapists don't follow the “no pain, no gain” mentality of their former coach of the school's sports team. Although muscle aches can also cross the line and turn into pain, joint aches are less ambiguous. This is the same type of beneficial discomfort you may experience after a good workout or new physical activity. One of the main reasons patients give for postponing physical therapy is the fear that the process will cause or exacerbate pain.

However, if the burning later develops into swelling and inflammation, consult a physical therapist or personal physician. It may seem confusing or contradictory, since physical therapy is supposed to help relieve pain, but the type of pain associated with physical therapy is different from the chronic pain experienced or the acute pain felt after an injury or surgery. Before designing an individualized care plan tailored to your condition, physical therapists will evaluate you and determine your condition. If you think you're experiencing more muscle pain than expected, or if you think your pain is severe, you should talk to your physical therapist to modify your treatment accordingly.

With everything you now know about pain and discomfort associated with physical therapy sessions, you should be able to talk to your therapist about your physical comfort levels. For example, don't ignore the worsening pain simply because a friend of yours did similar exercises and felt good. Basically, when a patient tells me that they are in “more pain”, I first try to determine if there is more pain or if there is a natural response to a new activity.