The popular saying 'more pain, more gain' might hold some truth for people suffering from chronic pain, for a new study has revealed that aggressive physiotherapy programs often lead to far better results than a more cautious pain-free approach.
The research team from the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Bethesda Hospital in The Netherlands, has found that nearly half those who were given the painful treatment recovered normal physical function, whereas those who avoided painful physiotherapy usually had further loss of physical function.
Type I Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a chronic progressive disease characterized by severe pain, swelling and changes in the skin. The cause of this syndrome is currently unknown.
Although CRPS may follow injury and surgery, this is not always the case.
During the study, researchers looked at 106 patients suffering severe physical impairments from CRPS Type I, which does not involve nerve lesions (unlike Type II).
They found that almost all the patients improved significantly when subjected to a rehabilitation program involving graded pain exposure.
In fact, more than half the patients in the study recovered full physical movement, and none of the patients experienced adverse effects from this more aggressive approach.
While this "full on" approach doesn't reduce the amount of pain associated with the condition, it does provide sufferers with a significant increase in mobility, function and quality of life.
CPRS can vary from joint stiffness and moderate pain in the arms or legs to paralysis and complete loss of function in more extreme cases.
The study appears in Clinical Rehabilitation, published by SAGE.