Health & Wellness Star Physical Therapy
Advantages to Physical Therapy to Relieve Pain
Chronic pain affects people all around the world, greatly impacting sufferers’ quality of life. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, recent reports have indicated
more than 1.5 billion people worldwide experience chronic pain. Common complaints include lower back pain, headache, neck pain, or neurogenic pain, which is pain resulting from damage to peripheral nerves.
Pain can impact people in many ways, as some people can tolerate discomfort better than others. Chronic pain may result in missed time at work, depression, anger, and an inability to live a full life. According to a recent Institute of Medicine Report: Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research, pain is a significant public health problem that costs society at least $560 to $635 billion annually.
To cope with pain, many people rely on over-the-counter and prescription medications. This reliance on drugs has helped to fuel pain medication addictions that can lead to other drug abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says research now suggests that abuse of opioid pain medications may actually open the door to heroin use. Some individuals report switching to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription opioids. A safer and sometimes more effective method of pain relief than opioids, physical therapy can help a person get back on track and feel much better in the process.
The American Physical Therapy Association says while surgery and prescription drugs can be the best course of treatment for certain diagnoses, there is increasing evidence that conservative treatments like physical therapy can be equally effective and cheaper treatment plans for many conditions. Physical therapy can be as effective as surgery for meniscal tears and knee osteoarthritis, rotator cuff tears and spinal stenosis, among other conditions.
When a patient is prescribed physical therapy, a therapist will develop a treatment plan that addresses the specific needs of the patient. This is essentially a collaboration between patient and physical therapist. Therapists are experts in improving mobility and motion and have studied extensively to that end. Because weakness or stiffness may be contributing to pain, therapists try to address the source of the pain and relieve the pain itself.
Physical therapy may include exercises that stretch the body and improve flexibility. Strengthening exercises will help work on core muscles as well as other parts of the body to prevent injury down the road. Therapy may target specific areas of pain. Because of their expertise, therapists may be able to assess posture, gait and other attributes that may be contributing to injury and make suggestions to reduce recurrence.
In addition to the therapies mentioned, a combination of massage and other work may be included in a physical therapy plan. This may include TENS and ultrasound. According to WebMD, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or TENS, uses a device to send a low-voltage electric current to the skin over the area where you have pain. Ultrasound sends sound waves to the places you have pain. Both of these options may help to block pain messages to the brain and offer relief.
Chronic pain can be debilitating. However, physical therapy is often an effective way to combat chronic pain and help individuals find relief and return to living full lives.