As the opioid crisis grips America, many people are turning to alternative forms of pain management other than prescription medication. From an increase in chiropractic care to ancient forms of medicine seeing a resurgence, many Americans are deciding to go with healthier and more proven ways of managing pain. Physical therapy is at the top of the list of alternative types of care when it comes to pain management, and yet many people are not aware of the many benefits of physical therapy for more than injury rehabilitation. Physical therapy is so effective in managing pain, that the CDC lists it as its top recommendation for an alternative form of opioids.
Here are five ways that physical therapists help their patients manage pain without the need for prescription medication.
1. Physical Activity And Chronic Pain
As the name implies, physical therapy is based mostly on physical activity as a means of rehabilitation and therapy for injuries, pain, and other medical conditions. The purpose of physical therapy is to get you moving and living pain-free, whether that pain is from a chronic condition or from an injury. Exercise, or physical activity, is the single most important part of physical therapy in how it succeeds at rehabilitation and pain management. Recent research suggests that physical inactivity is linked to more chronic pain problems. In the same study, researchers found that those people who were physically active were 28% less likely to have chronic widespread pain. This suggests a link between physical activity and pain management.
2. Specialty Rehabilitation And Pain Management
Even though physical therapy employs an exercise-based therapy, that’s not the only way physical therapists help their patients manage pain. In fact, many physical therapists tend to be trained and certified in manual therapy, or specialty rehabilitation. There are multiple kinds of manual therapies and specialty rehabilitation that a physical therapist might prescribe for a patient. This includes such therapies as dry-needling and Graston. Physical therapists also use heat and ice to help with muscle recovery and pain management.
3. Education And Prevention
If you don’t know what is causing your pain or how to stop it, how can you possibly learn to manage it except with medication? However, physical therapists pride themselves on being educators of their patients when it comes to knowing about pain and injuries. A diagnosis is not a secret to be kept from the patient, but rather explained in an understanding way. A physical therapist will always take the time to educate the patient on what happened and what caused the pain as this can help prevent from occurring in the future. Furthermore, home programs are often assigned by physical therapists as part of the overall program. For home exercises, physical therapists ensure that their patients know not just how to do the exercise, but what good form is and how to listen to your body.
4. Physical Therapists: There From The Beginning
Most people visit a physical therapist after an injury or pain. More often than not, those with chronic pain problems are far into their adulthood, making it harder to diagnose the problem. However, most people don’t realize that physical therapists are and can be there from the very beginning. Even in childhood, physical therapists can help with developmental activities, balance, coordination and motor skills, as well as improved motion and movement. Learning these things early on, meaning learning them properly in good form, can help prevent both injuries and chronic pain in the future. Furthermore, proper rehabilitation of injuries in childhood can prevent chronic pain and re-injury in the future, being an effective means of managing pain from the very beginning instead of waiting.
5. Working As A Team
Unlike doctor visits, physical therapy requires multiple visits over a long period of time. In these visits, physical therapists cultivate a close relationship with their patients, working closely with them and monitoring their progress. Physical therapists will monitor their patients closely, assessing their progress and how you’re responding to the treatment. Based on responses, physical therapists will either change the program to produce a better healing response. It’s important, then, to communicate honestly and directly with your physical therapist so that they can accurately assess your progress and ensure you’re on the right path for pain management.