Most reputable pain clinics today take a multidisciplinary approach to care. Various specialists work together to address the complex web of factors influencing each patient’s pain. From physicians to psychologists, every team member provides crucial support. But one discipline you absolutely want integrated into your treatment plan is physical therapy. Physical therapists bring unique skills that complement medical interventions. They play an invaluable role in restoring comfort, function, and quality of life.
How PT Helps Treat Pain
Physical therapists use hands-on techniques and tailored exercise programs to improve mobility and reduce pain associated with conditions like:
- back and neck injuries.
- sports injuries.
- post-surgical pain.
The focus is strengthening muscles to better support joints, improving flexibility to increase range of motion, correcting postural habits that contribute to pain, and identifying activities to avoid. Your PT acts like a personal trainer for your unique pain condition.
Modalities That Provide Relief
Beyond exercise, today’s physical therapists offer additional modalities that help relieve pain:
- Therapeutic massage loosens tight, painful muscles and improves circulation. Certain soft tissue mobilization techniques can release muscle trigger points.
- Passive stretching and range of motion exercises improve flexibility when active exercise is too difficult or painful.
- Ultrasound applies targeted sound waves deep into the tissues to stimulate healing.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses electrical pulses to interrupt pain signals.
- Heat therapy through moist heat packs or paraffin wax soothes muscle spasms and joint stiffness.
- Ice reduces inflammation following acute injuries or procedure-related pain.
- Traction/decompression relieves pressure on compressed nerves, causing radiating pain.
A comprehensive PT plan combines tailored exercise with modalities chosen specifically to address each patient’s impairments.
PT Supports Injection and Surgery Outcomes
Interventional pain management doctors such as those at Utah-based primary care clinic KindlyMD often incorporate physical therapy before and after procedures:
- PT prepares patients for surgery by strengthening muscles and improving mobility. This facilitates rehabilitation.
- After injections like epidurals and nerve blocks, PT helps extend pain relief through targeted stretching and exercise.
- Hands-on PT techniques ensure proper healing following spine procedures.
- Pain management doctors may require a course of PT before considering opioids or other invasive treatments.
Including PT ensures interventional treatments provide maximal, lasting benefits.
How PT Improves Function
Simply alleviating pain doesn’t necessarily restore the ability to perform daily activities. PT goes beyond pain relief to improve overall function:
- Exercises improve stamina needed for work and hobbies.
- Stretching tight muscles allows greater freedom of movement.
- Targeted strengthening stabilizes vulnerable joints to avoid reinjury.
- Assistive devices like braces support weakened areas.
- Advice on proper posture and body mechanics protects the spine.
Enhancing fitness and function ultimate allows resuming participation in meaningful activities.
Psychological Benefits of PT
For chronic pain sufferers, depression and hopelessness often set in over time. But targeted PT provides mental boosts:
- Exercises release feel-good endorphins to elevate mood.
- Achieving mobility goals motivates patients.
- PTs provide encouragement and accountability.
- Performing familiar activities again improves outlook.
- Reduced medication reliance increases independence.
Along with psychological counseling, PT gives patients a much-needed sense of control over their pain.
Seeking a Multidisciplinary Clinic with PT
Given the immense benefits of physical therapy, patients should prioritize multidisciplinary pain clinics with PT available on-site. Integrated access enables close coordination between therapists and doctors managing your care. Convenience is also improved when you can schedule PT and doctor appointments on the same visit. Don’t accept pain treatments in isolation – make comprehensive pain care your goal.
Physical therapy plays an essential role in restoring comfort, mobility, function, and mental health. When combined appropriately with medical therapies overseen by your pain management doctors, PT helps put your life back together one step at a time.