We’ve all been there at one point or another. Dealing with daily pain can be a constant ritual of our day just like eating breakfast or combing your hair.
It can be easy to accept that getting older comes with new aches and pain, especially as you get time passes and years ago by.
However, it’s important to note: joint or muscle pain becomes harder to treat as symptoms WORSEN (1,2,3). I added a few research articles indicating this fact with shoulder, neck and low back pain. As a clinician, I have much more success with patient’s recovery and elimination of pain when people come to see us within weeks of the pain starting.
Research definitely backs up this concept as well.
- Treating people with low back pain is more successful when identified early. (4)
- People with chronic shoulder pain have poorer results than those with acute shoulder pain. (1)
- People with neck pain had poorer outcomes if they had been dealing with pain for long duration or if they have had a previous history of neck pain. (2,5)
- Those who waited longer than 3 months had poor outcomes with neck pain than with those who were treated sooner. (6)
Plus, you set yourself up for having psychosocial problems the longer you deal with pain of all types. This can come in the form of depression, stress, anxiety, negative mood and poor cognitive function. (7) All of these factors can gradually diminish your quality of life and keep you unhappy!
Additionally, seek treatment for the first initial injury or pain. If neglected, then you may develop compensations with your movement. These compensations may not affect you in the short term, but you can set yourself up for a long history of repeat flare ups and injuries that have a worse prognosis when eventually treated. (2,5)
Your physical therapist can use active exercise, manual techniques and tips on activity modification to minimize your pain and assist with other adjuncts of treatment to maximize your ability to function. (8,9)
Even though we cannot generalize these findings to all joint/muscle aches and pains, we can take away one thing. Pain is a signal to your body in which something is abnormal. This is especially true if you have pain that persists for more than a few days. You end up having a harder recovery road ahead as you wait longer and longer to seek treatment. If you have yet to seek medical help or continue to struggle with pain, seek an assessment from your physician or a physical therapist to get a jump start on taking care of your body and maximizing your movement!
- 1. M. L. Reilingh, T. Kuijpers, A. M. Tanja-Harfterkamp, and D. A. van der Windt. Course and prognosis of shoulder symptoms in general practice. Rheumatology (2008) 47 (5): 724-730.
- 2. Christian D Mallen, George Peat, Elaine Thomas, Kate M Dunn, Peter R Croft. Prognostic factors for musculoskeletal pain in primary care: a systematic review. British Journal of General Practice. Vol. 57 no. 541 655-661.
- 3. Linda J. Carroll,Lena W. Holm, Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Pierre Côtè, J. David Cassidy, Scott Haldeman, Margareta Nordin, Eric L. Hurwitz, Eugene J. Carragee,Gabrielle van der Velde, Paul M. Peloso, and Jaime Guzman. Course and Prognostic Factors for Neck Pain in Whiplash-Associated Disorders (WAD) : Results of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000–2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Volume 32, Issue 2, Supplement, February 2009, Pages S97–S107
- 4. Brennan GP, Fritz JM, Hunter SJ, Thackeray A, Delitto A, Erhard RE. Identifying subgroups of patients with acute/subacute “nonspecific” low back pain: results of a randomized clinical trial. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2006 Mar 15;31(6):623-31.
- 5. Jeroen A.J Borghouts, Bart W Koes, and Lex M Bouter. The clinical course and prognostic factors of non-specific neck pain: a systematic review. Pain. Volume 77, Issue 1, July 1998, Pages 1–13.
- 6. Mary E. Lynch, Fiona Campbell, Alexander J. Clark, Michael J. Dunbar, David Goldstein, Philip Peng, Jennifer Stinson, and Helen Tupper. A systematic review of the effect of waiting for treatment for chronic pain. PAIN. Volume 136, Issues 1–2, May 2008, Pages 97–116.
- 7. B W Koes, M W van Tulder, and S Thomas. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain. BMJ. 2006 Jun 17; 332(7555): 1430–1434.
- 8. Jan Lucas Hoving, PT, PhD; Bart W. Koes, PhD; Henrica C.W. de Vet, PhD; Danielle A.W.M. van der Windt, PhD; Willem J.J. Assendelft, MD, PhD; Henk van Mameren, MD, PhD; Walter L.J.M. Devillé, MD, PhD; Jan J.M. Pool, PT; Rob J.P.M Scholten, MD, PhD; and Lex M. Bouter, PhD. Manual Therapy, Physical Therapy, or Continued Care by a General Practitioner for Patients with Neck Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(10):713-722.
- 9. A.R Gross, T Kay, M Hondras, C Goldsmith, T Haines, P Peloso, C Kennedy, and J Hoving. Manual therapy for mechanical neck disorders: a systematic review. Manual Therapy. Volume 7, Issue 3, August 2002, Pages 131–149