Contrary to popular belief, pain is not necessarily gain. If I got a quarter (my dad would say a nickel) for every time a new therapy client with arthritis or a sprain said their neighbor told them to “squeeze a tennis ball” to rid them of their ailments or when they ask “isn’t therapy supposed to be painful?”, I would drive a more expensive vehicle!

For example, consider a sprained wrist or ankle. Many physicians recommend rest, ice, compression and elevation of the injured joint prior to returning to normal activities. Many clients with injuries are unable to perform their normal work tasks, and in order to return to their duties safely, we follow conservative protocols to avoid re-injury with respect to pain. Reducing swelling, conservatively moving an injured joint and slowly using it in a pain-free zone is, in our experience, when injured clients have the best outcomes. Once pain and swelling are nearly diminished, then it is time to introduce gentle, graded strengthening exercises and functional activities to return to pre-injury status.

So what is this phenomenon called pain? It can be described as an unpleasant sensation often linked to an injury to our tissues. Everyone experiences pain differently and to varying degrees in response to injury. There are many ways of describing types of pain, but most importantly, its our bodies’ way of preventing further damage and injury. This is why it’s imperative not to ignore or dismiss pain too quickly. Pain could indicate the activity is causing further injury.

There are instances in which an occurrence of pain may indicate an emergency situation and you should seek medical attention immediately.

These can include:

  • Heart attack – an aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
  • Stroke – numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg located on one side of the body; a sudden and severe headache
  • Appendicitis – pain near the naval or upper abdomen
  • Gallbladder – pain in the upper right or center of your abdomen that may extend beneath the right shoulder blade or back
  • Toothache  can indicate a serious infection

Always discuss your pain symptoms with your physician. Pay attention to what time of day you experience the pain and what activities you are performing when pain occurs. This information can be helpful to your medical providers in diagnosing your condition and customizing a treatment plan.