Chronic pain is pain that has been with you for longer than 3 months. It is highly annoying, and for some it limits daily activities significantly, including the ability to work, take care of themselves and move around.

Understanding pain is very difficult, even researchers still haven’t found all the answers around pain yet! But there are some things we certainly do know, and there is more and more evidence showing the importance of movement and exercise in managing pain.

It is important to remember that pain is an output from the brain. And there are different types of pain that your health professional will work with you to identify. These include;

  • Nociceptive – caused by tissue damage in the body, usually sharp, aching or throbbing in nature
  • Neuropathic – pain derived from nerve damage or dysfunction. Often it is burning, tingly, cold, or like electric buzzing.
  • Central sensitisation – pain can modify the central nervous system, having a “wind-up” effect on the body, so it becomes highly sensitive, even to inputs that normally aren’t painful.

When considering your pain, it is important to look at all the aspects that can influence it, and if they are changeable. Some of these include;

  • Stress
  • Sleep
  • Beliefs regarding Pain
  • Past experiences
  • Other medical conditions
  • Other areas of Musculoskeletal pain
  • Local injury or trauma – ie. Tendon tear, disc injury
  • General physical condition
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Biomechanics

There is growing evidence to support exercise in chronic pain management. This may be in the form of simply walking, hydrotherapy, or a more specific strength and mobilisation program. When pain is felt, often we rest and don’t move, and over a period of time this can lead to weakness and deconditioning. Hands on therapy can be helpful in some cases, but its effects can be short lived, so a complete approach is very important. There are no magic fixes with chronic pain, persistence is the key, with the goal of long term management! It can take weeks or even months to see noticeable changes.

Physiotherapist play an important role in helping people with chronic pain, and work with your wider healthcare team and you to develop an individualise approach for you!

For more information about pain, visit Pain Health.


Jones L.E. & O’Shaunessy D.F.P. 2014. The Pain and Movement Reasoning Model: Introduction to a simple tool for integrated pain assessment. Manual Therapy, 19, 270-276.

Pain Health