Physical Therapy and Pain Management
Updated: Feb 2, 2022
The immediate response of most people when they feel pain is to take analgesics, some would resort to a hot and cold compress, others use herbs as an alternative, or for more serious cases patients seek surgery as the permanent solution. But there’s another that’s causing more and more people to be aware of the available resources that they can use to manage their pain in an even safer way- Physical Therapy. Recommended as the safest and effective alternatives to opioids for the management of most non-cancer-related pain by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can definitely be assured of the treatment being done to you. It focuses on the prevention and management of injuries or disabilities. PT not only relieves pain but also promotes healing and restores function and movement.
Here’s a fun fact, opioids (or pain killers as we know them) only mask the sensation of pain, physical therapists treat pain through movement, hands-on care, exercise, and patient education.
So how do Physical therapists treat pain?
Therapists would focus on decreasing pain using either passive or active therapy. To understand better, passive physical therapy would include manual therapy, heat or ice packs, electrical stimulation (TENS), dry needling, and cupping therapy.
Whereas, active Physical therapy would include movement-based activities (stretching and range of motion exercises), pain relief exercises, low-impact aerobic conditioning, and specific strengthening exercises.
That’s just a small part of the process. Generally speaking, physical therapy has 4 common steps or processes that they do.
Physical therapists prescribe different kinds of exercises specific to your health condition, goals, and needs. They are individualized meaning, your plan is always different from someone you might know who’s undergoing therapy as well. According to a study, people who exercised on a regular basis experienced less pain.
Physical therapists use different manipulation, joint, and soft tissue mobilization, and dry needling. And here in Arise, we use cupping therapy as one of our treatments. Researches also support a hand-on approach since it effectively reduces pain and improves the patient’s movement.
Upon having a consultation with your Physical Therapist, always expect a patient education with them. Whether it is a 45-minute educational session or a shorter one, these sessions are important. Research showed that people who received proper education about pain are less likely to seek treatment than those who didn’t get any. It’s always included in a patient’s session, plus they will also make sure that they understand your pain history to help you set realistic goals regarding your treatment.
Your treatment is and should always be teamwork. Rapport will be the most important in establishing a trusting relationship with your Physical Therapist. This way, your physical therapist will be able to directly work with you and assess how your pain responds to treatment.
Keep in mind that each patient will respond differently to therapy. Some may feel a faster relief than others, this is because we have different body types, patterns of movement, and different habits as well. Physical therapists can monitor each individual and attempt to correct improper habits and movement patterns.