Can Physical Therapy Relieve Chronic Pain?


For individuals living with diseases like arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and multiple sclerosis, the chronic pain that comes with it can be incredibly trying. These “invisible diseases” often present few, if any, symptoms to the outside world, but the person living with them is dealing with life-impacting symptoms daily.

The symptoms can often vary in severity – in some cases, individuals may go weeks or months without extreme symptoms and then suddenly experience a flare-up that leaves them bedridden, even if they’re taking medications to manage their pain and other symptoms. 

During the more manageable periods, it’s common for individuals to wonder if there’s anything they can do to prevent or treat their chronic pain, and physical therapy is often a suggested option. 

In this post, we’re going to look at some diseases that cause chronic pain and how physical therapy might alleviate it.


Arthritis is a disease that causes the immune system to attack the joints, causing stiffness and inflammation, leading to pain and immobility. For individuals living with arthritis, physical therapy can greatly improve their symptoms, allowing them to relieve the joint stiffness and pain that are hallmarks of arthritis.

With physical therapy, individuals with arthritis can increase their range of motion and muscle flexibility. Small improvements in these areas can have significant benefits for anyone, but especially those who are suffering from arthritis and dealing with debilitating pain and stiffness. These improvements can allow sufferers to continue caring for themselves and completing necessary everyday tasks through flare-ups.


While there’s no known cure for fibromyalgia, there are several things that individuals afflicted with it can do to help manage their symptoms, and physical therapy is one of them.

Many people with fibromyalgia suffer from muscle and joint stiffness, which can be relieved with physical therapy treatments such as gentle stretches, deep tissue massages, and hydrotherapy. By reducing muscle tension and increasing range of motion, patients can maintain their mobility even during flare-ups.

Fibromyalgia patients may also benefit from dry needling. This treatment involves inserting a dry needle (one without medication) into or near the trigger points of muscles to help reduce and alleviate pain.


Patients with lupus experience a range of symptoms, including muscle weakness and pain and joint pain. Physical therapy can help patients increase their muscle strength and endurance so that when they’re experiencing symptoms, their muscles are better able to respond and withstand the pain. Additionally, exercises that help strengthen the muscles around the joints and increase their range of motion can help limit joint stiffness and pain.

Many lupus patients also experience varying degrees of inflammation throughout their bodies, which can be alleviated by physical therapy treatments such as aqua therapy, which allows patients to exercise and complete their prescribed stretches while taking some of the physical stress off their muscles and joints.

Multiple Sclerosis 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack the central nervous system, which, in turn, can cause a wide range of physical symptoms from tingling and numbness to muscle spasms and weakness and loss of balance.

For many individuals living with MS, physical therapy helps them retain their independence longer by managing the condition and treating existing pain and potentially helping them regain lost function by strengthening their muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Since people with MS may have their balance and/or gait affected, physical therapy can also help them ensure they’re using proper walking techniques to avoid injuring themselves with a fall.

As individuals lose the ability to complete specific tasks, physical therapy can help them maintain or regain the strength needed to adapt their approach to maintain independence without injury.
If you or a loved one are living with chronic pain, physical therapy may help relieve pain and regain or maintain independence. Speak with your primary care physician or one of our expertly trained physical therapists to see if it’s right for you!

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