From Our Therapists: Living With Pain

July 3, 2017

Pain is defined as physical suffering or
discomfort caused by illness or injury. Pain is
your body’s way of telling you something is
wrong. More than 76 million people in the
United States live with chronic pain. It is
estimated that chronic pain costs $100 billion
annually in the United States (health care expenses,
lost income, and lost productivity at
work/home). In addition, sixty per cent of older
adults with pain have had it for more than one
year. Pain will continue to be a concern as the
elderly population grows.

In 2006, Americans
older than age 65 numbered about 36 million
(12.4% of the population). By 2030, this group
will number 70 million (about 20%).
Pain interrupts a person’s quality of life. Pain
can have an effect on multiple areas of your
health and well being, including physical, social,
and emotional aspects. Normal daily activities
such as dressing or bathing may become more
difficult. Sleeping and eating habits may be disrupted.

A person’s work or leisure interests may
decline. Pain can cause feelings of anxiety and
depression. It may also lead to decreased
activity, which can then lead to reduced flexibility,
strength, and stamina.

There are two different types of pain: acute
and chronic. Acute pain is pain that usually
begins suddenly, lasts for a short time, and
diminishes as the body heals. Causes of acute
pain may include surgery, infections, or musculoskeletal
injuries. Chronic pain is pain that lasts
for at least three months or for years. It is
associated with common condition such as
arthritis, low back problems, fibromyalgia, or
nerve damage from diabetes.

There are several ways to approach the treatment
of pain. The goal of treating pain is to first
identify and eliminate the cause, which is usually
a specific trauma or infection. Your doctor may
prescribe medications such as anti-inflammatories,
muscle relaxants, narcotics, or may
prescribe Physical or Occupational Therapy.

Other alternative approaches to treatment may
include massage therapy, Tai Chi, and biofeedback.
There are also ways that you can play a part
in managing your pain. It is important to maintain
a healthy weight. Extra weight can slow
you and the healing process down and make the
pain worse. Exercise is also an effective way to
stay active and stop the “snowball” effect of
more pain and loss of function. Getting enough
sleep can improve your mood and the healing
process. Finally, joining a support group may
allow you to share ideas and thoughts about living
with pain.

How can therapy help? Seeking professional
advice from your rehab team to analyze your
unique situation can often result in simple solutions.
Your rehab team is specially trained to
help adults with a broad range of conditions that
affect pain management. They can also identify
lifestyle changes that can facilitate a reduction in
pain. Consult your rehab team today if you are
concerned about managing your pain. For additional
information, please contact your Select
Rehabilitation Physical, Occupational, and
Speech Therapists.

For information about Kendal at Lexington’s inpatient and outpatient therapy services contact Ashley at (540) 464-2630 or

–Written by  Savleen Kaur Juneja, Rehab Program Manager with Select Rehab, Kendal’s Onsite Therapy Provider.

Originally published in the July 2017 Residents’ Newsletter.