Everyone’s experience with pain is unique, and how we experience pain can affect our lives very differently. For many of us, pain comes and goes without much thought, but to others it is chronic, limiting our lives and making us feel helpless. If you feel your pain is chronic, you would certainly not be alone–according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 20 million Americans have pain that interferes with their daily activities, that’s nearly 1 in 5 of us.
When it comes to experiencing pain, the first thing to understand is that pain originates in our brains. This applies to any type of pain whether it’s acute, from a recent injury, or chronic. Saying that pain comes from the brain, however, does not imply that it is not real. Understanding this concept is the first step to understanding how pain can be treated.
Physical therapists are the experts when it comes to the human body, focusing on movement, function and how all of our parts are connected. They are the most holistically equipped to investigate, diagnose and treat the true, root cause of pain. At Fremont Therapy Group and Rocky Mountain Sports, our team of experts has advanced training in the many ways pain can be treated and they can help you understand, manage, and potentially resolve your pain. The approach to treating pain is as unique as the pain each of us experiences.
Utilizing Pain Neuroscience Education (PNE), Rebecca McDaniel, PTA, is just one of our pain management experts. Rebecca has advanced training with Graded Motor Imagery (GMI) with the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute (NOI) Group. She often utilizes this approach to help our patients better understand their pain, adapt their activities to reduce it, and with the help of physical therapy, begin functioning normally with their pain reduced or even eliminated.
Because no two bodies are exactly alike, it is good to know that physical therapy offers many options to treat pain. In addition to PNE and GMI, our clinics specialize in dry needling, cupping, myofascial release, manual therapy, and aquatic therapy, all of which can be used to help get you moving and reduce pain.
For people seeking relief from pain without medication, GMI is one of many innovative approaches that are backed by the latest pain science studies. It is a rehabilitation program that incorporates left and right recognition, visualization, and mirror therapy/sensory training for your brain into the physical aspect of treating the body’s source of pain.
Rebecca explains, “Progressing through the three phases of GMI, helps patients take control and understand their pain, and ultimately get their bodies back to pain-free movement.
I first became interested in GMI when I encountered a patient in his 40s who’d had a ranching accident that led to a knee surgery, then a total knee replacement and eventually two revisions. He was an otherwise healthy individual, but frustrated and in constant, excruciating pain. When we began incorporating GMI techniques into his treatment plan, we saw his pain levels drop significantly. He went from reporting a level 8 on a 10-point pain scale, to a level of 4-6, which was a huge improvement for someone with constant pain. GMI has also shown effective results with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), osteoarthritis, phantom limb pain, and fibromyalgia.
It is very rewarding to help people increase awareness of their bodies, so they have a better understanding of what triggers their pain and how to cope with it. I’m grateful to be able to show my patients that constant pain can be changed and that they can enjoy activities that have been out of reach for years. Our brains do amazing calculations when given visual input–the part of our brain that activates a body part to move will activate on a smaller level just by seeing an image of that body part. Being able to activate that part of our brain without pain is a powerful step in pain management.”
Pictured below, Rebecca guides patient Deborah Meyer through the phases of GMI.
Deborah states, “I can’t believe this actually works. One of the things she had me try works wonders. Every time my neck gets stuck I follow her suggestions and I’m able to have a pain-free night.”
A free consult or full evaluation with one of our pain management experts can open the door to a pain-free life. Call any of our five locations to find out how we can help you conquer pain!
To learn more about GMI click here.