Chronic Pain

Jessica Farrell, PT, DPT Counterstrain Portland
Portland, Oregon


Pain has a purpose. It is part of a complex signaling system that helps you keep yourself out of harms way. As an example, without pain to let you know that the pan you accidentally touched is too hot, you would burn yourself severely. Instead, at the first touch of the pan, pain kicks in and you jerk our hand away. This example describes an instance of acute pain which doesn’t last long and serves a protective purpose. Chronic pain lasts longer than 3 months and often has an invisible cause that your doctor will be unable to identify with lab testing or imaging. Even if there is a visible cause that can be captured with imaging such as osteoarthritis there are often few treatments offered that can provide you lasting relief. Current pain science tells us that all pain and especially chronic pain is multifactorial. This means that your overall health and wellbeing plays a roll in how much pain you feel. If you are too stressed, not getting enough sleep or not eating well it will tend to make your pain worse. Unfortunately once you are sleeping enough, eating well and managing stress the best you can there are not many effective treatment options for treating the visible or invisible causes of chronic pain. Counterstrain can be a very effective option to treat both.

Fascial Counterstrain Treatment

The invisible causes of chronic pain are often located in the fascia (deep connective tissues) of all the different systems of our bodies. Fascia is located everywhere in our bodies including arteries, veins, nerves, viscera (digestive system, lungs and heart), ligaments, muscles and bones. When the body is injured by a physical trauma, chronic life stress, repetitive stress, infection or any other source of injury the fascia can become dysfunctional. When fascia is dysfunctional it doesn’t move as well and inflammation can become trapped causing chronic pain and movement limitations. These fascial limitations can make other visible causes of chronic pain such as osteoarthritis or bulging discs more painful because of increased load from poor movement or poor function of the venous system causing poor drainage. With a combination of gentle tissue glides and comfortable positioning guided by a system of thousands of tender points your Counterstrain practitioner can unload the dysfunctional fascial tissues to allow swelling to drain. This gives your body an opportunity to complete the healing process. Many people with chronic pain who have not gotten relief from other types of conventional and alternative treatment options have been helped by Counterstrain.