Why Do People Live With Treatable Pain?

 In Back Pain, Health, massage, Neck Pain, pain

Why do people live with treatable pain? 

The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage”. Every person will experience pain in some form throughout their lives. It can be dull, sharp, last for minutes or last for years.  No matter if it is from an injury, disease or part of a condition, it can impact your life. Ongoing pain can cause the following:

  • Increases in heart rate
  • Increases in blood pressure
  • Restriction of movement
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

All of these factors can lead to loss of work and quality of life. With all of these negative effects, why do people not access treatment for their pain?

Pain can be influenced by age, gender, social class, past experiences, coping strategies and culture. All of these factors can also determine how a person perceives their pain, how they feel about their pain and how they access treatment. Clients will often say “I am not sure if you can help me or if I should even be here”. In most cases, Physiotherapy can treat the condition they are referring to and improve the person’s pain and quality of life.

Arthritic Pain

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder worldwide affecting over 250 million people (Litwic et al, 2013) with hip and knee OA being one of the leading causes of global disability. Osteoarthritis has been  commonly thought of as an older person’s disease, but research no longer supports this. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in 2015 showed that OA ranked among the top 20 diseases for those in the 40-45 year old age category. Half of people who had symptoms from their OA were reported to be under 65. Many report loss of mobility and difficulty performing tasks both at work and home.  

Unfortunately, when many people are diagnosed with OA they are told that they have a degenerative or chronic disease which research has shown to imply that there is no treatment or prevention for it. Sometimes they are told that it is “normal wear and tear as you age” which is very dismissive in nature and can imply that inevitably osteoarthritis has a poor prognosis. Research does not support either of these notions.  

Therapeutic exercises along with hands on Manual Physiotherapy is recommended by the Ottawa Panel of Evidence as the most beneficial for knee OA. This combination can help reduce pain and improve function.  Another term that is commonly heard is that there is “bone on bone” in the knee or hip. This picture can cause fear to move. Not only is this an inaccurate picture of what is happening in the knee or hip, it stops people from doing what research shows to be the best treatment for hip and knee OA, which is exercise and weight loss. Non pharmacological interventions such as education, exercise and weight loss have been shown to be just as effective as pharmacological interventions for treating pain and issues related to knee OA.  

Exercise as a best practice for knee OA is supported by 50 randomized controlled trials (Francis et al, 2015) and is strongly recommended by several best practice guidelines.  Exercise has been shown to be effective for all severity levels of knee and hip OA, from mild to severe and even those eligible for hip or knee replacements.

Although this is the case, many people are unsure of what exercises to do or have stopped because they feel pain or are worried about causing further damage. A qualified Physiotherapist can assess and then guide persons with OA to the best self management strategies and prescribe specific exercises that are individualized and appropriate for that person.  

Osteoarthritis is a common condition that many people are diagnosed with and can cause considerable pain and loss of quality of life. Physiotherapy treatment can decrease symptoms, improve quality of life and delay or prevent surgery.

Ongoing Neck Tightness

Another area that people suffer needlessly from is prolonged neck tension and headaches. Many people are working long hours with a lot of stress and don’t feel they have time for treatment. On average most clients only require 4-8 treatments. Each treatment is usually 30-45 minutes, once per week.

It can be overwhelming and feel like one extra thing on that to do list, but prolonged pain as stated above can interrupt your sleep, decrease work productivity, decrease your attention span and affect your overall function and quality of life. There is strong evidence that a combination of Manual Physiotherapy techniques, education and exercises give long term benefit for treatment of both neck pain and also headaches related to the neck.  

Treatment for prolonged neck pain and headaches typically involves evidence-based care including education on pain management, what structures are affected and the rehabilitation stages. Treatment also could include postural and mobility exercises, Intramuscular Stimulation (Dry Needling), Manual Therapy techniques and targeted strengthening exercises.  

Low Back Stiffness or Pain

60-80% of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives with most resolving in six weeks. Commonly though, during a Physiotherapy assessment for another injury or body part, a client will report having ongoing low back pain or stiffness. Generally, they minimize this pain by stating that they thought it was normal for most people to have some low back pain or as part of aging.  

Getting treatment at any stage of low back pain can help to minimize the fear of moving, give strategies to deal with the pain and also provide an appropriate mobility and strengthening program. Research has shown that mobility and strengthening exercises can decrease low back pain.  A thorough Physiotherapy examination can determine if there are factors that are leading to this chronic stiffness such as muscle imbalances, improper body mechanics during work or home activities, weakness or another pain source.

Every person will experience pain at sometime in their life, but they should not have to live with it! If you are unsure if your pain or condition can be treated, please consult one of our qualified Physiotherapists.


Written by:

Renee Poloprutsky


Visit Renee’s bio page here: https://fifthavephysio.com/our-team/renee-poloprutsky/





Physiotherapy Alberta College and Association Physiotherapy Knee and Osteoarthritis Fact Sheet

Litwic A, Edwards MH, Dennison EM, Cooper C. Epidemiology and burden of osteoarthritis. Br Med Bull. 2013;105(1):185–199. doi: 10.1093/bmb/lds038

Fransen M, McConnell S, Harmer AR, et al.  Exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015;1:CD004376. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004376.pub3


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