Chronic pain refers to persistent or long-lasting pain that continues for weeks, months, or even years beyond the normal recovery period. In fact, nearly all complaints related to the musculoskeletal system can become chronic if not properly treated or accurately diagnosed. Examples of these include all forms of overuse injuries, traumas (WAD/whiplash), postoperative conditions and/pr diseases, RSI (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, M. Quervain’s syndrome), achilles tendon inflammations, bursitis, frozen shoulders, all types of back and neck pain, headaches, osteoarthritis, herniated discs, groin pain, sports injuries, rheumatism, knee pain, et cetera.
Chronic pain is often considered a different type of pain when compared to acute pain, which is a (often) temporary response to overload or illness. Chronic pain can be complex and multifaceted, involving various physiological, psychological, and social factors.
At Orthomedix, we specialize treating chronic and long-lasting pain complaints. We believe that a substantial portion of these issues can be resolved quickly and effectively as long as specialized diagnostics are performed, possibly including imaging or involvement of other specialists we collaborate with. The consequences of chronic pain on the musculoskeletal system (the system responsible for movement and support in the body) can be significant and far-reaching. It can lead people to go on sick leave, become disabled, severely limit their everyday activities, resort to medication (NSAIDs/morphine/paracetamol), or undergo pain treatments at the pain clinic. Below, you’ll find how chronic pain can impact the different components of the musculoskeletal system:
Chronic pain can result in joint stiffness, loss of mobility and flexibility, and even damage due to disuse. Prolonged pain can alter movement behavior, leading to underutilization of joints, which can, in turn, cause conditions like osteoarthritis or joint inflammations. Our specialists at Orthomedix can assist you by restoring and improving movement functions, thereby reducing or sometimes eliminating certain pain complaints. Conventional physiotherapy often proves inadequate in our experience. It’s always crucial to analyze the origin of (chronic) pain complaints to prevent recurrence after your treatment. Additionally, if necessary, medical specialist examination can determine the affected structures for targeted treatment.
Chronic pain can cause muscles to stiffen, shorten, and weaken. In essence, they lose their protective function over time due to reduced activity. This muscle imbalance can contribute to increasing pain, decreasing mobility, and further deterioration of function. Regular strength training with a physiotherapist usually isn’t sufficient to restore function. Through specialized techniques, Orthomedix specialists can address issues like muscle length, laying the foundation for subsequent treatment steps.
Ligaments connect different bones together and provide stability to joints. Chronic pain and altered movement patterns can affect the tension and load on these ligaments, raising the risk of strains, sprains, and other injuries. Ligaments can become adhered and form adhesions, leading to pain and reduced mobility, potentially creating a downward spiral.
Chronic neck or back pain can lead individuals to adopt compensatory postures to alleviate discomfort. These altered postures can result in joint overloading in the (lower) back and neck, which may eventually lead to conditions like herniated discs with resulting neck and back pain. Especially in cases of slouching, causing spinal curvature, the pain tends to worsen. Orthomedix ensures each regular physiotherapist is internally trained to work as an (orthopedic) manual therapist. Our treatment employs specialized techniques to reduce your complaints and guide you through recovery and rehabilitation.
People with chronic pain may adapt their movement patterns to avoid provoking pain. To some extent, temporarily avoiding the use of a joint, tendon, or muscle might be necessary, such as in cases of sports injuries. Conversely, prolonged, reduced, incorrect, or non-use of a muscle, tendon, or joint can lead to decreased function. If this persists, chronic pain complaints can develop. Altered movement patterns can eventually lead to decreased function of these structures and abnormal biomechanics. Patients enter a downward spiral with increasing complaints throughout the kinetic chain. In essence, more links join in, exacerbating the situation.
Chronic pain can discourage physical activity and exercise, leading to reduced fitness and muscle strength. Lack of exercise can further worsen pain and contribute to a cycle of decreased functioning.
Chronic pain can result in emotional suffering, anxiety, and depression. These psychological factors can impact pain perception, muscle tension, and overall functioning, creating a complex interplay between body and mind.
It’s important to note that the consequences of chronic pain on the musculoskeletal system can vary widely depending on factors such as the underlying cause of pain, individual differences, and the duration and severity of the pain. Effective treatment often requires a multidisciplinary approach that addresses physical, psychosocial aspects to improve overall well-being and restore functioning. If you recognize yourself in these complaints or have already tried multiple treatments or practitioners without success, at Orthomedix, we approach your problem in a specialized manner. If additional diagnostics are needed, we will refer you to the appropriate specialist to establish an accurate diagnosis.