Motion is Lotion  by Shelley R. Smith, M.D.

Movement is medicine

For patients with Persistent Pain though, movement is not only a good idea, it is a treatment in and of itself.

“Joints adore movement and regular compression, which are essential for their health. Movement distributes the slippery synovial fluid, and cartilage loves the pumping compression. The brain eagerly welcomes the sensory inputs from the joints as it wants to know what is happening so it can construct the best response for you.”

-Dr. Lorimer Mosely, Professor of Clinical Neurosciences and Chair in Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia

Movement is good for the joints, muscles, nervous system and brain. Activity represents the natural state of the body. For patients with Persistent Pain though, movement is not only a good idea, it is a treatment in and of itself. Movement is medicine.

Movement can impact the joints and cartilage as Dr. Moseley details above . Like traditional medicines, movement can also induce chemical changes in the body. Researchers have documented that movement can induce the brain to form nerve growth factors and even produce new brain cells. In addition, it helps the brain form dopamine; a brain chemical that helps people progress towards accomplishing goals.

To further show how exercise is like traditional medications, dose, or how much one exercises and how often, can be critical to effectiveness. It turns out that the “no pain, no gain” adage does not work for patients with Persistent Pain. Push the body hard and fast and you are prone to induce a pain flare-up. This can teach the body and brain to be fearful of exercise. In contrast, return to exercise or specific movements, like the tortoise who beat the hare, and one can make slow but sustained progress.

The specialists at Columbia Pain Management encourage patients to participate in regular movement. This might involve working with a Physical Therapist to gradually return an injured body part to more normalized movement or might involve a walking or swimming program. An example of an appropriate walking program would be South Africa’s Run/Walk for Life Program. The point of this program is to avoid injury and start very slowly. With great patience, one can then work up to more significant walks, making sure to give the body time to rest between sessions.

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or stymied by Persistent Pain we can help get you moving and feeling better.

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