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The Role of Occupational Therapy in Chronic Pain Management

Nurse helping elderly women with arm exercises and weights

Millions of individuals are affected by chronic pain worldwide, and it can significantly impact their ability to engage in daily activities and affect their quality of life. There are various options to manage chronic pain, however, occupational therapy has quickly emerged as a valuable treatment option. At Shaker Place, we believe in the benefits of OT, and how it can help individuals regain control over their lives.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain can be characterized as persistent discomfort lasting over long periods of time, weeks, months or even years. There is not a specified singular cause as it can stem from various sources such as injuries, neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases, and more. Compared to acute pain, which acts as a warning sign of injury or illness, chronic pain can be a condition in itself, requiring long-term treatment.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy is a healthcare medical profession that helps individuals participate in meaningful activities and occupations that are essential to one’s daily life. In the context of chronic pain, occupational therapy takes an individualized and comprehensive approach to address one’s own physical, emotional, and environmental factors that could be contributing to the pain experience.

Role Occupational Therapy Plays in Chronic Pain Management:

Modified and Adaptive Activity

Occupational Therapists work closely with individuals in order to assess their daily activities and possibly identify any modifications or adaptations which could help with pain management. They help enable individuals to engage in activities they value while minimizing pain through learning alternative techniques, using assistive devices and technology, and making changes to their environment.

Pain Management Techniques

Occupational therapists adopt various pain management techniques, such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness practices, breathing activities, and guided imagery. These techniques contribute to pain reduction by helping individuals reduce stress levels, enhance coping skills, and adopt an overall positive outlook.

Fatigue Management & Energy Conservation

An everyday task can become more challenging as chronic pain often leads to fatigue and reduced energy levels. Along with physical activities, occupational therapists also educate individuals on energy-conservative strategies and prioritization of activities. Through effective energy management, they can engage in necessary tasks without exacerbating their pain.

Body Mechanics & Ergonomics

In order to minimize stress and strain on the body, occupational therapists educate individuals on proper body mechanics and ergonomics. To ensure individuals perform tasks with reduced pain and increased efficiency, therapists provide guidance on posture, lifting techniques, and positioning through various activities.

Learn More About Our Shaker Place Team!

Living with chronic pain can significantly affect one’s quality of life, limiting daily activities and hindering overall well-being. While there are various approaches to pain management, occupational therapy has been proven to foster positive results. Occupational therapy is a holistic approach that focuses on enabling individuals to engage in meaningful activities and overcome physical and mental challenges. At Shaker Place, we prioritize quality care. To ensure comfort and consistency we pair the same therapists with residents. Contact us today to learn more or check out our newly renovated occupational therapy room!