Non Medical Pain Therapies

We asked Dr. Sean Sutton, a chiropractor at The Pain & Wellness Centre in Vaughan to provide us with some explanations of different therapies used in pain management. Many of these treatments and therapies can be done by manual therapists such as chiropractors and physiotherapists, but some of these techniques require special training. Here is Sean’s “Glossary”: 

Active Release Therapy ® is a soft tissue system based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, and ligaments. ART is helpful at relieving pain, spasm and adhesions in tight muscles, which are often a result of overuse injuries. 

Acupuncture is a technique in which a fine disposable needle is inserted into the skin and tissues of the body to reduce and/or relieve pain, improve muscle function and stimulate the body to produce its own natural pain relieving chemicals called endorphins. Be aware there are more than one kind of acupuncture techniques.

Chiropractic Adjustments, also known as “Manipulations”, are a therapeutic technique used to treat conditions involving jointsofthespineandextremities. A gentle but fast thrust is directed towards a joint with the goal of improving movement, decreasing muscle spasm and relieving pain. There may be an accompanying audible release of gas (“pop”) that is a combination of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, which releases joint pressure. 

Spinal Mobilizations are used similarly to chiropractic adjustments in that they aim to restore or enhance joint function. Unlike a chiropractic adjustment, mobilizations often involve slow oscillatory passive movement, usually to the end of a joints range of motion, to mobilize a joint.

Exercise Therapy consists of a plan of physical activities designed and prescribed with specific therapeutic goals in mind. An exercise therapy plan may be used to restore normal musculoskeletal function, reduce pain caused by injury, or build endurance to protect against further harm. 

Aqua Therapy uses water-based exercises for therapeutic intent, in particular for relaxation, fitness, and physical rehabilitation. Exercise is performed while floating, partially submerged, or fully submerged in a pool. These programs are beneficial for conditions where limited or non-weight bearing movement isdesirable, or where normal functioning is limited by inflammation, pain and muscle spasm.

Electrical Therapies such as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) or Interferential Current (IFC) use varying frequencies of electrical current for pain relief. Electrodes are placed on the skin around the injured body part and the device transmits electrical impulses to the under- lying tissues to relieve pain through the production of endorphins, and reduce muscle spasm caused by inflammation.  

Cold Laser Therapy or Low level Laser Therapy (LLLT) utilizes specific wavelengths of light to interact with tissue and is thought to accelerate the healing process, eliminate pain, decrease swelling, and reduce muscle spasm.

Ultrasound Therapy is a method of stimulating the tissue beneath the skin’s surface using very high frequency sound waves. Ultrasound may be helpful in speeding up healing by increasing blood flow in the targeted area, and decreasing pain from the reduction of swelling.

Shockwave Therapy involves the application of short, frequent, and high intensity
bursts of mechanical energy (in the form of a shockwave) into tissues that are injured, scarred, painful, or inflamed. Shockwave can increase local blood flow, improve healing, break apart scar tissue, reduce muscle spasm and decrease pain. 


Dr. Sean Sutton, BSc, DC
Acupuncture Provider
Diplomat of the Canadian Academy of Pain Management (CAPM)
Certified Strength Coach (CSC)

The Pain & Wellness Centre
2301 Major Mackenzie Dr. West
Vaughan, ON L6A 3Z3
email: seansutton1010@gmail.com
tel: 416-587-0512
fax: 1-844-358-9308