Manage Chronic Pain with Physical Activity

Manage Chronic Pain with Physical Activity

Pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks despite the use of medication or treatment is classified as chronic pain. Sometimes it is caused by an injury or surgery. In other instances, it can occur without any preexisting condition. A recently conducted study indicates that physical exercise can help manage chronic pain among other health benefits, as reported by McKnights.

This study was conducted in Norway to examine the correlation of chronic pain and regular physical activity. Data was collected from over 10,000 individuals. Their level of “leisure-time physical activity” was measured through a questionnaire. The classified levels were sedentary, light, moderate or vigorous.

A cold-pressor test was used to determine the individual’s level of pain tolerance. For a short period of time, their hand was placed in ice cold water to analyze their pain threshold. After seven to eight years, the same individuals’ pain tolerance and physical activity were measured again, and any changes in them.

The study authors stated, “In conclusion, being physically active at either of two time points measured 7-8 years apart was associated with higher pain tolerance compared to being sedentary at both time points. Pain tolerance increased with higher total activity levels, and more for those who increased their activity level during follow-up.”

physical activity

The research concluded that physical activity helps better control and manage chronic pain. Anders Pedersen Årnes, the lead author from the University Hospital of Norway, wrote, “The main takeaway is that engaging in habitual physical activity in your leisure time seems to be connected with your pain tolerance—the more active you are, the higher your tolerance is likely to be.”

Read how chronic pain causes decline of physical function.

It is suggested that over time due to aging, leisure-time physical activity may have fewer benefits. However, increasing physical activity can be a possible therapeutic non-pharmacological solution to help reduce or even prevent chronic pain.

Clinicians of Cornerstone Rehab provide rehabilitation therapy to older adults in skilled nursing facilities who may be suffering from chronic pain. Cornerstone Rehab has career opportunities for physical, occupational and speech therapists, and you can make a difference in the lives of our patients. For a complete list of career opportunities at CSR click here.