Exercise for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

min read


The Sports Injury Clinic

Rachel Mills

April 13, 2021


Pain is complex and completely different for each individual, however the decision to seek professional advice can be a difficult one.

Let’s dive into what it is, and how exercise and education can benefit individuals.

What is chronic musculoskeletal pain?

Chronic musculoskeletal pain refers to the ongoing pain felt in bones, joints and tissues of the body that persists longer than three months. More common pathologies include osteoarthritis and discogenic back pain. Some unknown pathologies include spinal pain, fibromyalgia and chronic widespread pain. It is well known that with chronic musculoskeletal pain comes secondary pathologies or consequences of persistent pain including fear of movement, anxiety and central centralization.

Is pain normal?

In short, Yes. Pain is normal, it’s one of the human body’s protective systems.

How does pain occur?

Pains intention is to alter the human body’s behaviour. This occurs when our brain (nervous system) concludes that there is more evidence of danger to the body than there is safety.

Why do some individuals continue to experience pain past three months?

As pain persists, its pathways go into overdrive with protective changes that the human body has made and therefore it can be less associated with the actual acute harm.

How can exercise help my pain?

There is consistent evidence that exercise can improve pain, disability and function with those suffering from musculoskeletal pain.

Through exercise we can help try to restore and guide a more normal balance of the musculoskeletal system. If we think of exercise as opening the drug cabinet within the brain, neurotransmitters wet the brain down and stop “danger signals.” By this we can try and reverse the avoidance cycle/fear avoidance, re wire the brain to reduce heightened alarm systems and improve sleep.

In summary, pain is normal and exercise is one of the proven methods to retrain the pain system to become less protective. Pain will not occur when our credible evidence of safety is greater than our credible evidence of danger.

If you or someone you know suffers with chronic musculoskeletal pain, our Exercise Physiologists are here and available to help. Call us on 9783 9990 or book online.


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