Is Physical Therapy Supposed to Cause Pain?

Discomfort and pain are expected when undergoing physical therapy as it is a form of training for the body. Learn more about how physical therapy works and how it can help relieve pain.

Is Physical Therapy Supposed to Cause Pain?

Discomfort and pain are to be expected when undergoing physical therapy, as it is a form of training for the body. This is the same principle that applies when building strength through exercise or weightlifting. Muscles must experience a certain amount of stress, which can lead to irritation and pain. Pain occurs when muscles tense and weaken after physical therapy or stretching, when lactic acid builds up and causes irritation.

If a muscle is injured, the result is swelling, which activates painful fibers in the area. This can cause pain even at rest due to acute inflammation (current swelling). During the healing process, there is also pain with the use of muscle. This is because muscles are used to move bones, and when you use them to move your body, the injured muscle activates pain fibers in the injured area and you feel pain.

Patients usually go to physical therapy because they are experiencing something in their bodies that doesn't feel right. 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 may be surprised when muscle pain may be present the day after a therapy session. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, sore muscles tend to feel tight and sore when they're at rest and burning and fatigued during exercise.

It is important to tell your therapist about any additional pain so that they can adjust your treatment plan accordingly. Severe pain is never normal or acceptable, so it's vital to understand the difference between normal discomfort and pain that should not be felt. If additional pain is delaying recovery, the therapist may consider adjusting the length or frequency of the sessions. Physical therapy isn't always easy and, in a way, it will hurt as you teach your body to repair and rehabilitate itself after an injury.

Patients often get upset and scared if they feel pain after knee physical therapy as this part of the body is very sensitive. The number of treatments the therapist recommends will depend on the extent and severity of the condition. Doctors usually prescribe physical therapy to try to relieve pain and restore function before resorting to more invasive options such as surgery. Physical therapists don't follow the “no pain no gain” mentality of their former coach of the high school sports team.

Most likely, the therapist's hands will not cause the pain that patients experience the next day.