“Chronic pain is not all about the body, and it’s not all about the brain – it’s everything. Target everything. Take back your life.” – Dr. Sean Mackey, Stanford professor. 


Chronic pain. It’s a phrase that carries a heavy weight. Millions of people worldwide grapple with this constant companion, a dull ache or a searing fire that disrupts daily life and diminishes joy. But there’s hope. Innovative therapies are emerging, offering new pathways to manage pain and reclaim a sense of control.


For example, as one article points out,


“Regenerative medicine, including stem cell therapy, offers promising avenues for chronic pain treatment. These approaches aim to repair damaged tissues and alleviate pain at its source, potentially providing long-term relief.”


By understanding some of these groundbreaking approaches, we can discover how they can potentially help us find relief and move forward with life.


a physical therapist helping a person move their arm and shoulder


Understanding Chronic Pain


Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists beyond the normal healing time of an injury or illness, typically lasting for three months or longer. It can manifest in various ways, from widespread musculoskeletal pain to localized discomfort in specific areas like the back, neck, or joints.


The causes of chronic pain are complex and can be a combination of factors, including:


  • Past injuries
  • Underlying medical conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia
  • Nerve damage
  • Inflammation
  • Psychological factors like stress and anxiety



How Chronic Pain Works


In acute pain scenarios, such as a minor cut or stomach upset, specialized nerve cells called nociceptors, located throughout the skin, muscles, and organs, detect tissue damage. These nociceptors then transmit electrical signals via nerves to the spinal cord.  The spinal cord acts as a relay station, processing and amplifying these signals before sending them to the brain.


Upon reaching the brain, these pain signals are interpreted, and the conscious experience of pain is produced. This prompts the body to react accordingly, such as withdrawing from the source of injury.


However, as the Mayo Clinic explains, this process sometimes goes awry,

“The brain, and the pathways that lead to it, can change over time — rerouting messages through new paths in the central nervous system. This is called neuroplasticity, and it usually helps the brain function more efficiently. But as the brain gets faster at processing sensory signals, it can become so sensitive it can no longer accurately detect danger and the messages get distorted. When the central nervous system can’t accurately detect danger, it sometimes sends frequent pain signals to the brain, leading to chronic pain.”


a physical therapist helping a person move their hip and back


Traditional Approaches and Their Limitations


For many years, chronic pain management relied heavily on medications like opioids and anti-inflammatory drugs. While these can offer some relief, they often come with a range of side effects such as drowsiness, constipation, and addiction risks.


Additionally, traditional physical therapy approaches may focus on symptom management through modalities like massage or heat therapy, which can provide temporary relief but may not address the underlying cause of the pain. This can lead to a cycle of dependence on medications and frustration with limited progress.



The Rise of Innovative Therapies


Fortunately, the field of pain management is evolving rapidly. Here’s a glimpse into some innovative therapies that are making a difference:


  • Neurorehabilitation Techniques: Therapies like NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT®) and Anatomy in Motion (AiM) focus on identifying and correcting movement dysfunction that can contribute to pain. By retraining the brain to utilize optimal movement patterns, these approaches aim to reduce pain and improve overall function.
  • Mind-Body Therapies: Techniques like mindfulness meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and yoga have proven effective in managing chronic pain. These approaches focus on developing coping skills, reducing stress, and promoting a positive mindset, which can significantly impact pain perception.
  • Neuromodulation Techniques: Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are minimally invasive procedures that use electrical currents to modulate nerve activity and reduce pain signals. While not suitable for everyone, these techniques offer promising results for specific types of chronic pain.
  • Precision Medicine: This emerging field tailors treatment plans based on an individual’s unique genetic makeup and pain response. By identifying specific pain pathways, doctors can potentially prescribe more targeted and effective medications.


a person's hands on another person's knee


Beyond the Therapies: A Holistic Approach


Innovation extends beyond these specific therapies. A holistic approach that addresses the physical, emotional, and social aspects of chronic pain is crucial. Here are some additional strategies to consider:


  • Exercise: Regular physical activity, even in modified forms, can improve pain tolerance, flexibility, and overall well-being.
  • Healthy Diet: Maintaining a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can support your body’s healing process.
  • Quality Sleep: Prioritizing quality sleep allows for better pain management and promotes overall health.
  • Support System: Building a strong support network of family, friends, or support groups can provide invaluable emotional and social support.



The Road to Relief: Finding What Works for You


Chronic pain is a complex journey, and the path to relief will vary for each individual. It’s important to work with a healthcare professional to develop a personalized treatment plan that incorporates a combination of approaches.



Embrace New Possibilities in Chronic Pain Therapies


Living with chronic pain can feel overwhelming, but innovative therapies and an integrated approach offer renewed hope. By exploring these options and actively participating in your treatment plan, you can take control, manage your pain, and rediscover a life filled with possibility.


Remember, you are not alone on this journey. With knowledge, support, and the right tools, you can manage your chronic pain and live a fulfilling life.


a physical therapist helping a person rotate their shoulder


Chronic Pain Relief Therapies With Pain and Performance Solutions


For chronic pain, the first step in recovery and relief is letting us get to know you and your pain issues. Once you make your first appointment, we’ll want to learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of discomfort.


After a full examination, we can determine which form of treatment is needed to help you on your road to recovery. At Pain and Performance Solutions we specialize in bringing relief from chronic pain with therapies such as Active Release Techniques® (ART®) and Anatomy in Motion (AiM). So, don’t simply ignore your pain and hope it will just go away. Let us help.


Getting chronic pain relief with therapies such as ART® can only begin when we can understand where your pain started. That could mean it started previously with another injury you might have sustained.


Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body working properly and healthy is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any, and all questions that you may have.


You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.