Chronic Pain: The False Alarm

By Chad Garvey, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

Everyone who has heard a car or house alarm over and over again in their neighborhood understands how annoying, stressful, and unhelpful they can be.  It doesn’t serve its purpose anymore and only makes life more miserable for everyone within earshot of it.

Chronic pain behaves very similarly in the body, and its message is not only inaccurate, but having it makes everything else in your body unhealthier.  1 out of every 6 people lives with chronic pain and 75% of those adjust their lifestyle because of it.

So how do you turn the alarm off?  There is a growing amount of research in this area with good news!  You can help manage this alarm system and “turn the volume down”.

One of the best 1st options is regular aerobic exercise. This can be as simple as a daily 5-10 minute walk to start, as long as it is something that doesn’t cause the pain to “flare up” and increase stress chemicals in the body.  This type of activity helps produce “feel good” chemicals in the brain which can help “rewire the alarm”.

Another technique is visualizing the activity, pain free, that normally accompanies pain, paired with deep, slow breathing.  This also helps “rewire the brain” by preventing the pain from being expected every time the activity occurs.

These are just a few of the activities that can be done to effectively help the brain “relearn and rewire” itself to better know that “PAIN DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL HARM.”  To learn more about chronic pain and how to better deal with it feel free to speak with a KORT physical or occupational therapist to gain more strategies and education about dealing with chronic pain. Visit us at or call 1-800-645-KORT.

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Chad Garvey KORT Downtown Clinic Director, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Regis University as well as a post-Doctoral Certificate in Manual Therapy. He is a Board Certified Specialist in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy (OCS) and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT). In addition, Chad is a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). Chad is the clinic director. He is a lead instructor for KORT’s orthopaedic residency program in addition to being an instructor to practicing physical therapists and physical therapy students at both the local and national level. He regularly conducts and shares his own research at national physical therapy conferences.

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