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Am I meant to be sore after treatment?

It can be quite daunting coming into physiotherapy to get treatment, particularly during the early stages of recovery when things are acute, painful and swollen. Treatment itself can entail a number of different modalities including, but not limited to massage, dry needling, joint mobilization, joint manipulation and exercise-based therapy.

While you might have pain or be sore from the injury itself, you might also experience a level of soreness after treatment. The important thing to discern and differentiate is pain due to your injury or ailment and pain or soreness after treatment.

Often pain from the presenting injury is quite insidious and can be debilitating. This is how we are able to characterize and separate the different sources of pain. Pain due to treatment will often be milder in nature and is never intended to exacerbate your pain from the injury itself. An analogous way of comparing the two separate sources of pain is to rate the level of pain from 0 to 10. Insidious, sharp or debilitating pain due to your injury would be higher on the spectrum, upwards of 6-10. Whereas pain or soreness due to treatment might be more closer to 3-4.

Pain and soreness due to treatment can be due to a number of different factors. Often if muscles are tight, having some massage or dry needling to break through the knots in the muscle can be uncomfortable. Similarly, if your muscles are weak, completing strengthening exercises that are challenging can be equally uncomfortable, particularly if your are not used to doing any regular exercise. The important thing to note here is that the discomfort from treatment is aimed at being therapeutic and overall improving your function and movement to get you closer towards your goals.

It should also be noted that therapeutic discomfort or soreness post treatment should only be temporary. It should never last weeks or months. The body is an adaptable organism and as we strengthen weak areas or reduce tightness in other areas as aforementioned, these should not continue to cause further discomfort or discomfort to the level previously experienced.

Communicate and speak to your physio if your soreness post treatment does not fit the above characteristics, as there might be something that could be altered in your treatment plan. Remember that we are here to help you get better, reduce your pain, get you moving and most importantly achieve your health and fitness goals!

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