Everything You Need to Know About Physical Therapy for Pain Management
If you have long-term pain, physical therapy can help reduce your pain. Here’s everything you need to know about physical therapy for pain management.
Every year, approximately 50 percent of all Americans over the age of 18 live with some kind of musculoskeletal injury or condition.
Lots of people experience musculoskeletal injuries and could benefit from physical therapy. But, only a fraction of them actually works with a physical therapist to try and fix their problem.
Are you on the fence about seeing a physical therapist? Are you unsure of what they do or how they can help you with your pain?
If you’re hesitant about seeing a physical therapist, keep reading.
Everything you need to know about physical therapy for pain management is explained below.
What is Physical Therapy?
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the field of physical therapy. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know what physical therapy is or what a physical therapist does.
Here’s some basic information you ought to keep in mind when considering whether or not a physical therapist can help you.
Physical therapists provide a variety of services that are meant to help people develop, maintain, and restore their movement and functional abilities.
Their goal is to help patients maximize all aspects (physical, mental, emotional, social) of their well-being and quality of life.
Physical therapists can help people of any age or stage of life. People work with a physical therapist to treat and recover from a wide range of conditions, including:
- Cardiopulmonary conditions (COPD, cystic fibrosis, post-myocardial infarction, etc.)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Trigger finger
- Chronic pain
- Sports injuries (ankle sprains, knee dislocations, rotator cuff tears, etc.)
- Neurological conditions (stroke, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, etc.)
Some physical therapists also work with postpartum women to treat issues like pelvic floor dysfunction.
Benefits of Physical Therapy for Pain Management
If you’re struggling with chronic pain or any kind of musculoskeletal injury, a physical therapist can be a great person to have in your corner. There are lots of ways that physical therapy can help with pain management, including the following:
Set Specific Exercise Goals
Research consistently shows that exercise can help minimize physical pain. It’s especially beneficial to people who struggle with chronic pain.
Of course, if you’re brand new to exercise, or if it’s been a long time since you’ve exercised, it can be hard to know where to begin or what to focus on. You also have to be careful and make sure you don’t accidentally make your injury or condition worse.
A physical therapist can help you set specific exercise goals and design a program that will be effective for your needs.
Physical therapists often use types of manual therapy like manipulation, massage, dry needling, traction, and joint mobilization.
These therapies provide a lot of great benefits for people dealing with pain and injuries. Some specific benefits include:
- Minimizing swelling and inflammation
- Promoting relaxation
- Improve physical performance
- Increase movement abilities
- Prevent or treat impaired bodily functions
Manual therapies can also be used to improve overall health and wellness.
Many people know very little about what is causing their pain or how their lifestyle could be making things worse.
A physical therapist can provide important education to help patients make changes that will improve their quality of life, minimize their pain, and prevent it from getting worse.
Additional Pain Management Techniques
Physical therapists also have access to a wide range of tools that can help minimize pain and improve mobility.
The following are some popular tools that physical therapists rely on:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit: This tool interrupts pain signals by sending low-voltage electrical currents to the skin over injured or painful areas.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasound devices interrupt pain signals by sending sound waves to painful areas.
- Massage tools: Many physical therapists use massage tables, chairs, or other tools to help loosen up patients’ muscles and encourage relaxation
These tools are not always necessary to relieve pain. But, they can be very helpful, especially when they’re used under the guidance of a qualified physical therapist.
What to Expect from Physical Therapy
Many people feel anxious about going to physical therapy for the first time because they’re not sure what to expect.
Every physical therapist is different, of course. But, your first appointment will typically go something like this:
- When you first arrive, you’ll talk to your physical therapist about your condition
- He or she will then perform an examination and measure impairments that could contribute to or cause your pain
- When the exam is complete, the physical therapist will talk to you about what they observed and work with you to come up with a treatment plan
- They may also begin treatment after your initial examination
Your physical therapist will put together a treatment plan that is unique to you and your needs. Most plans involve two or three sessions per week for roughly 6-8 weeks.
How to Find the Right Physical Therapist
In order to experience the benefits of physical therapy, you need to make sure you’re working with the right physical therapist.
There are lots of physical therapists to choose from. These guidelines can help you find a qualified individual who can treat your specific condition:
- Ask for recommendations from friends or family members
- Check with your insurance provider to find a therapist who’s in your network
- Do some research online to learn more about the physical therapists in your area
- Check their online reviews to find out what people are saying about a particular therapist
- Schedule a consultation and pay attention to the way they communicate with you
During your initial consultation, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask about their education, experience, and the type of clients they typically see. The answers to these questions can help you determine whether or not they’re a good fit for you.
Meet with a Physical Therapist Today
Now that you know more about physical therapy for pain management, are you interested in working with a physical therapist?
Whether you’ve been injured in a car accident or are struggling with chronic pain, a physical therapist can help.
If you live in or around the Tampa or St. Petersburg, Florida areas, contact us at AJ Therapy Center today to schedule an appointment.