Is Physical Therapy Painful?

Is Physical Therapy Painful?

The “no pain, no gain” adage makes a lot of sense in certain circumstances. For example, if you’re trying to increase muscle mass, you need to tear down muscle fibers so new tissue can repair the damage and build on the foundation. The same holds true for mental activity — diligent study and hard work reap the rewards of gained knowledge and skill.

But if you need physical therapy to treat an injury, the goal is to decrease, not increase, your pain.

At Princeton Pain & Spine Institute in Lawrenceville and Edgewater, New Jersey, Dr. Dinash Yanamadula offers cutting-edge pain management treatments, including physical therapy by Dr. Christine Savela

If you have a musculoskeletal issue or neurological dysfunction, Dr. Savela works with you one-on-one to increase your range of motion, reduce inflammation and pain, and improve function. Here’s what you can expect.

What is “good pain?”

While physical therapy should never hurt, you should expect to feel challenged. The goal of your PT is to increase your mobility, so you have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. This, of course, feels mildly uncomfortable — some of our patients call it “good pain.”

Good pain is a critical component of the healing process, and as you log in time and effort, you’ll begin to reap the rewards — your pain subsides, the movements become easier, and your body heals. 

Your physical therapy session

Whether you’re experiencing neck pain, lower back pain, or joint pain, physical therapy may be a key part of your treatment and rehabilitation. Traumatic injuries, arthritis, degenerative diseases, and strains and sprains can all benefit from the therapeutic aspect of PT.

Dr. Savela works closely with you and Dr. Yanamadula to design a personalized PT program that addresses your unique needs. A typical PT session lasts about an hour as Dr. Savela guides you through various modalities. 

Depending on your condition, you’ll likely need several sessions to make gradual progress and reach your goals.

What physical therapy feels like

No two PT programs are identical. Dr. Savela designs your therapy for your precise needs. Although you may perform the same exercise or stretch as someone else, your experience may be completely different.

Dr. Savela focuses on manual therapy, which means she uses her hands to move your body into specific positions to hold a stretch, flex a muscle, or bend a joint. These movements should feel slightly uncomfortable, but not painful.

She also stresses the importance of core strength, so be prepared to sweat a bit. Whether you perform your exercises here at our office or at home, it’s important to strengthen the support structures surrounding your injury. 

Not all PT modalities cause discomfort, in fact, some feel downright good. Therapeutic ultrasound, heat therapy, and electrical nerve stimulation can be quite relaxing. 

Some types of physical therapy are neither uncomfortable nor relaxing — they’re just educational. Dr. Savela likes to involve you in your PT sessions as much as possible and help you understand the purpose behind each treatment. You may spend some time practicing proper posture or learning a new gait to improve your joint or spinal health.

What to do if you feel pain during physical therapy

It’s important to understand the difference between discomfort and pain. It’s normal to feel sore or tender after working out tight muscles and joints. Weak tissues need time to rebuild their strength and flush out the lactic acid that may have built up and caused irritation.

That said, if you ever feel outright pain during or after your physical therapy session, tell Dr. Savela right away. She can make adjustments to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Physical therapy is a two-way treatment that relies on Dr. Savela’s expertise and your honesty and adherence to the program. Pain can occur if you:

Dr. Savela gives clear instructions for exactly how and when to conduct your PT, and if you ever have any questions, please feel free to call. Our goal is to rehabilitate your injury, reduce your pain, and improve your quality of life, so we encourage you to ask questions and participate fully.

If you need physical therapy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Savela by calling either of our New Jersey offices or using our online booking tool. 

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