Pain rehabilitation

To "rehabilitate" means to put something back in good condition or restore to an optimal state of health. In medicine, rehabilitation can take several forms — including physical therapy, occupational therapy and recreational therapy. And while these practices might not return someone to a pain-free state, they do offer several strategies to help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy focuses on reducing pain through a regular exercise program that incorporates flexibility, aerobic and strengthening exercises. Physical therapy is primarily based on proper body mechanics — using muscles and joints correctly to limit pain.

Even when you have pain, movement is important. In fact, movement helps speed recovery and might even help prevent acute pain from becoming chronic pain. A physical therapist will tailor an exercise program to your individual condition and goals. Depending on the source of the pain, a physical therapist will recommend different treatments and exercises.

A physical therapist can also use integrative medicine procedures, such as:

  • Biofeedback, which uses technology to teach you how to control certain body responses to help relieve some types of pain
  • Chiropractic manipulation, which can help relieve neck and low back pain
  • Massage and other soft tissue therapies that can relax muscles and improve blood flow

Occupational therapy

Pain can keep you from taking part in your normal activities, including going to work or having fun with family or friends. Occupational therapy helps provide skills and strategies to help manage pain, so it interferes less with daily life — allowing you to engage in your life even if full pain relief isn't possible.

Occupational therapy is a holistic practice, meaning that it addresses both mind and body. An occupational therapy program combines stress reduction techniques, physical exercises that address areas of pain and cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you recognize how thoughts contribute to pain, and how changing these thoughts can help manage the pain.

July 26, 2016 See more In-depth