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Does physical exercise help people with chronic pain? Scientists are looking into it

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Posted August 1, 2019

It is difficult to comprehend how many people are dealing with chronic pain every day. Studies have shown that 30 % of people involved in motor vehicle accidents will go on to develop a chronic pain. And then there are people with all kinds of conditions, injuries and illnesses causing chronic pain. But maybe a healthy dose of exercise is the answer? Scientists from The University of Queensland want to check that.

Physical exercise will cause temporary muscle soreness, but it could reduce chronic pain. Image credit: MCC Lucy M. Quinn via Wikimedia

Exercising is obviously known for its effects on physical and mental health. Studies have shown that people heal quicker when they exercise. It sort of helps retuning the body, making all of its components to click back into place. However, studies in chronic pain are lacking exercising aspect and scientists now want to change that, because chronic pain is unbelievably common nowadays.

For example, whiplash injuries, which occur when head suddenly moves in the relation of the body causing neck to hyperextend or bend in an unnatural angle, oftentimes leave people in pain for years. The worst thing is that treatment options are incredibly limited or ineffective. Because whiplash, which is known as cervical acceleration–deceleration in medical terms, causes so much pain, people resort to untraditional kinds of treatments, such as acupuncture, massages or herbal medicine. These kinds of treatments cannot help much, but maybe exercising could?

Researchers are starting to look into exercising as a possible treatment for chronic neck pain, caused by whiplash injuries. Now they are looking for participants and creating  low-intensity physical exercise routines that are most likely to help. The programme will last for eight weeks and will be supervised by a physiotherapy researcher and an exercise physiologist. But is it likely to help?

First of all, studies have shown that physical exercise improves the physical condition. That is just common sense. Stronger body provides more support and could reduce pain.

However, this is not the first research of this kind, although others included just a small pool of people. Studies have shown that exercising has some favourable effects in reduction in pain severity and improved physical function. Furthermore, physical exercise didn’t cause any harm to these people, which is also very important. People with chronic pain are typicallyų sceptical about exercising, because they are afraid that it will cause even more pain. Although muscle soreness is likely, relief is going to be greater.

Currently people with chronic pain have to use medication, which often has adverse side effects. Exercising can be fun and harmless, so people should definitely look into it.

 

Source: University of Queensland

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