When a patient is in pain, the goal of the physiotherapist is first to focus on pain management and relief. Usually, before any further progress can be made, most of the treatment time is dedicated to controlling and eliminating the pain symptoms. However, pain management is not our main end goal; we still need to improve physical fitness factors (strength, power, range of motion, balance, aerobic).
While entering into the pain management phase of treatment, consider utilizing the 80/20 rule, or the Pareto principle, to understand the procedure of rehabilitation. Like in other fields and disciplines, this powerful principle was found to appear and to be associated with many natural phenomena. This principle was developed by an Italian economist, who observed that 80% of his garden produce came from 20% of the plants. The concept was further applied to the world of economics as Pareto showed that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the population.
In business, the rule describes a trend in which 80% of sales come from 20% of clients. Similarly, in sports, 20% of exercises produce 80% of the overall impact. Lastly, when applied to time management, the Pareto principle suggests focusing on the 20% of the tasks that would provide 80% of the results.
Regarding pain management, it has been found that connecting the information to the 80/20 rule demonstrates an alternate situation. Conversely, 80% of our treatment time would be devoted to controlling the pain, which would only produce 20% of our end outcome results. In other words, 20% of the effects come from 80% of the cause, pointing out the extra effort required to gain improvement during the pain management phase.
However, this can also encourage the selection of optimal treatment and exercise regimens as there is no additional time to waste. We want to be extremely picky during that part of the intervention phase and to work only with those strategies that have been proven to be effective. Thus, time management for pain relief is a highly relevant and vital concern.
Consider that once the pain levels are controlled or even eliminated, the addition of 20% of the treatment time devoted to strength and other physical exercises would satisfy 80% of the total goal. Thus, to further assist patients’ improvement and progression, a home-based program focused on pain management can be applied, which allows the therapist to focus on that beneficial 20 % that would likely produce the most significant results.
Three tools and machines are frequently used in physiotherapy clinics for pain management and relief but also available for home use.
1) Paraffin Bath:
An effective treatment to reduce the pain symptoms associated with arthritis and other inflammation-related hand conditions. It aids in rehabilitation and can be used for pain management.
2) Heating Pad:
Similar to the paraffin bath, it provides a thermo (heat) effect; though, this pad can cover larger body areas (back, legs, shoulders).
3) TENS Machine:
For this one, there is no good enough, home-based alternative to the professional TENS machines as they are far more advanced than those available for home use. Still, for home use, there are a few options available on the popular online market websites.