Is Physical Therapy Pain Normal?

Physical therapy should never go from discomfort and pain to real pain. Learn what's normal when it comes to physical therapy pain from an expert.

Is Physical Therapy Pain Normal?

Physical therapy should never go from discomfort and pain to real pain. The moment you start to experience real pain is the time 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. Physical therapy doesn't hurt if it's done by a certified physical therapist.

The expression “without pain there is no gain” may be familiar to you, and while catchy, it can contribute to a harmful mindset. It also causes people to hesitate or stop physical health changes because they are afraid of the discomfort they may feel. Interestingly, while it means that physical therapy can lead to a traumatic experience, the opposite is true. It's much more likely to worsen injuries and prolong the discomfort and pain you're already feeling if you avoid care at a physical therapy center.

This is a controlled injury, just like surgery 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 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 can function better, and therefore, during the eight weeks, the muscle becomes stronger. You can do more work for longer periods of time.

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. Many patients think physical therapy is going to be a walk in the park, and many are surprised at how difficult it is. So, is it normal to feel pain after physical therapy? Yes, as long as the pain is good and is resolved with simple actions such as resting, applying ice or light stretching. Suspension therapy has helped patients to accelerate their healing time and to have a more comfortable physical therapy experience.

As you move forward, the situation gets worse, but you don't want to embarrass yourself or make your therapist feel bad, so you don't say anything. That's a good question, because physical therapy is often used after traumatic events or certain painful health conditions. Pace Physical Therapy in San Jose, California specializes in postoperative rehabilitation and recovery therapies. The problem is that keeping silent about physical therapy pain can lead to worsening discomfort and even additional injuries.

Each person's unique experiences, physiology, psychology, injuries, personality, and more will determine how they respond to physical therapy. Instead, adopt physical therapy as your own personal journey to healing and look for a physical therapist who is willing and able to work with you as an individual. The best course of action, in that case, is to call your doctor or physical therapist and schedule an appointment. While many patients perceive physical therapy as a process that increases pain (physical therapists are sometimes jokingly referred to as “torturing patients”), the reality is that the purpose of physical therapy is to reduce pain, not increase it.

The same goes for pain after a physical therapy session: feeling mild (and sometimes moderate) pain the day after the session is probably beneficial and, in general, is a good sign that the body can respond appropriately. Because of the intention of this type of treatment, which involves a physical challenge for muscles, joints, tendons, etc., it's normal for people to experience some level of discomfort during their sessions. However, if this discomfort turns into real pain then it's time for you to stop your regimen and consult with your therapist.