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Pain: the good and the bad

Pain in Physiotherapy is something we assess and treat on a daily basis. In this blog, I will discus what type of pain you should be worried about and what you should expect.

I could write a thesis on pain as it is so complex. Instead, I would like to focus on how we, as Physiotherapists, understand and interpret your pain. In addition, I will explain what information your pain gives us.

Is there such a thing as ‘good’ pain?

Yes! One of the most common forms of “good pain” is “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS). This happens when you’ve challenged a muscle with something it’s not used to. It could be a new exercise or doing a familiar exercise with increased intensity or duration. Within 1-2 days, you’ll start to feel soreness in the area and it may be tender to touch. Nonetheless, the soreness goes away quickly after that and there is no residual pain. Good pain is also that feeling you get when the Physiotherapist/Massage Therapist finds a sore spot in your body and starts to relieve it. “Trigger point release” is a term we use to describe this.

good pain

What, then, is ‘bad’ pain?

We consider bad pain to be anything that keeps you awake at night or has a very high pain rating. Physiotherapists use a 0-10 scale to quantify the intensity of the pain. Bad pain is an injury. Continuing to exercise when injured will not allow you to push through pain or reach your goals. Conversely, it will only make things worse in both the short and long term. You need to stop the provocative activity and seek a recovery plan.

Am I sore or am I injured?

Bad pain comes in many forms, impacting our muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments or
nerves. This pain is generally sharp (occasionally shooting) and sudden. In addition, it generally signifies an injury that is unlikely to settle after 24 hours. Hence, further investigation and treatment is required by a Physiotherapist.

How do you describe your pain?

Pain in Physiotherapy covers a vast range of descriptions.We may ask questions to ascertain the type of pain you are experiencing. These may be the following:

  • What is your pain on a scale from 0-10?
  • Is your pain sharp or more of a dull ache?
  • Are you experiencing any shooting pain?
  • Do you have any neural symptoms (tingling, pins and needles or numbness)?

These questions allow us to work out what the problem is and, more importantly, how to fix it for you!

Let us help with the bad pain! If you have pain lasting more than 24 hours or have any lingering issues with your body, book in to see one of our Physiotherapists. 

~ Tanya Hofman
Physiotherapist

Enjoy these other PMPP pain-related blogs:

Have you tried the Salt Lab products we stock at PMPP? These are great for muscle pain and tightness. Here’s a link to their website: https://www.saltlaboratory.com

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