Physiotherapy, a non-pharmacological approach in the management of pain

Sanam Rana

Pain is a disabling symptom in many medical and surgical conditions that causes suffering in a person. It can interfere with the normal day to day functioning and quality of life. 

The role of Physiotherapy in pain management is challenging but the need for a non-drug approach in the management of pain is possible with physiotherapy.In a multidisciplinary team approach to management of pain, physiotherapy is also one of the specialty included in the team. 

The role of Physiotherapy in Pain management consist of 
-    assisting patients to diminish their pain

-    preventing acute and sub-acute painful conditions from developing into chronic pain

-    and improving function and quality of life. 

The non-pharmacological intervention used in physiotherapy in the management of pain are listed below:
1)    ELECTROTHERAPY: Electrotherapy is a component of physiotherapy practices that uses various modalities in treating pain associated with Neurological and Musculoskeletal conditions. Commonly used physical agents in physiotherapy for pain management are Electrical stimulation agents, Thermal agents and Non-Thermal agents. These agents help in relieving pain by increasing lymphatic and blood circulation to the affected area. It alsoinduces local vasodilatation and possible muscle relaxation and by these means are able to act and prevent pain sensation from being transmitted to the central nervous system by closing the pain gate.In the table listed below, the electrotherapy modalities are categorized based on their nature of action.

2)    OTHERS: These includes Tractionand Manual therapy. Manual therapy includes soft tissue technique and joint mobilization. Various soft tissue techniques used are Myofascial release, Soft tissue mobilization, Trigger point release, Manuallymphatic drainage and Muscle energy technique. Commonly used Joint mobilization techniques are Maitland mobilization and Mulligan technique.

3)    RECENT TRENDS: Dry Needling, Therapeutic Taping, Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilizationand Cupping Kinetics.

The writer is Senior Physiotherapist, HOD, Physiotherapy Unit, Department of PMR, Christian Institute of Health Sciences & Research, Dimapur.