Physical therapies: Key messages

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  • The therapies that have the most benefit are the ones in which you can become an active participant. That way, you can use the therapies on your own, any time that you need them and with confidence that you can succeed.
  • Physical therapies use approaches that affect the body tissues (muscles, joints, bones and nerves) to reduce pain and improve your physical function and overall wellbeing.
  • Active therapies have long-term health benefits that can make your muscles, bones, heart and lungs stronger so you can become fitter and have more energy to take part in a range of activities.
  • A graded exercise program is when you start off slow and increase the intensity, number or type of exercises gradually over time.
  • Passive therapies (such as massage, hot/cold packs, ultrasound or acupuncture) do not require any effort from you, but there is very limited evidence that they work on their own for chronic pain. It is best to use passive therapies to get your body ready for more active therapies.
  • Combination therapies use multiple approaches to treat chronic pain, for example an active therapy such as exercise together with a passive, manual therapy such as a massage.​
Last updated: May 2nd 2016