You may be one of the millions of individuals living with chronic pain. Whether you’re recovering from a serious surgical procedure, dealing with the physical effects of an accident, or struggling with a long term medical condition, pain can prevent you from enjoying all the daily activities you love. You may be considering more surgeries or strong medication to fight the pain. A physical therapist has many different treatment options to effectively manage pain. Physical therapy offers several safe and non-invasive methods that can reduce or even eliminate your pain. Contact Optimal Rehabilitation OT & PT today to find out how physical therapy can help you live a pain-free and active life.
Manual therapy is physical therapy delivered by the hands instead of using a machine or a special device. These techniques are more than just a massage. After a physical therapist goes over a complete evaluation of your medical history and any current conditions you may have, a physical therapy program that includes manual therapy can be created specifically for your individual needs. There are several manual techniques that a physical therapist may use to treat the soft tissues in the body. A few of these include the following:
- Soft Tissue Massage – Massage done by a skilled physical therapist can loosen tight muscles, ease pressure around sore joints, and help eliminate a variety of painful conditions.
- Soft Tissue Mobilization – Using mobilization techniques, a physical therapist would focus on the muscles and how they’re attached to various joints. This technique is used specifically for restoring movement and improving range of motion.
- Strain and Counterstrain – This is a physical therapy technique that is used to pinpoint tender points throughout the body. Once these are located, the physical therapist will position your body to shorten and relax the muscles involved. The primary purpose of this is to reduce muscle spasms.
- Muscle Energy Techniques – This type of physical therapy method involves repositioning joints that are considered dysfunctional and then treating the muscles around that particular area.
- Thrust Techniques – Using this method, a physical therapist will apply quick and repetitive pressure to a particular joint. These rapid movements in the correct place on the body can restore natural movement.
Ice and Heat Therapy
Both ice and heat therapy can work to provide relief for pain. A trained physical therapist will know which type, heat or cold, will work best for the type of pain you’re experiencing. Heat and ice work in different ways to help reduce painful conditions. Heat increases blood flow and more quickly brings nutrients to various parts of the body. Cold, however, reduces blood flow and brings down inflammation and swelling. The following are a few ways physical therapy uses heat to ease pain:
- Heat therapy is often used for older or reoccurring injuries. It can reduce pain when a person is experiencing arthritis or stiff joints.
- Heating pads, wraps, and gel packs can be used to relieve chronic pain in the neck and lower back.
- Heat therapy is used for treating and reducing pain for muscle spasms.
There are also specific benefits for using ice therapy, also called cryotherapy, in physical therapy treatment:
- Icing can reduce pain in injuries such as ligament sprains in the ankles or knees.
- Ice therapy is often used for many types of muscle strains.
- Ice therapy is recommended for new injuries to immediately reduce swelling.
Exercise and Stretching
If you’re experiencing pain, the last thing you may feel like doing is exercising and stretching. The right type of exercising and stretching, however, can loosen muscles, reduce stiffness, and limit inflammation. Exercise can even release endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-killers. A physical therapist can create an exercise and stretching routine that suits your personal fitness level and helps relieve painful muscles and joints. Tight muscles can be the source of pain or make other painful conditions worse. Learning how to stretch in a safe and correct manner can alleviate stress and pain.
Advancing technology using lasers can now provide pain relief in a safe and non-invasive manner. A single wavelength of light is generated with a low-level laser. There isn’t any vibration, sound, or even heat emitted with this type of treatment. It normally takes more than one treatment for a patient to notice significant results, but laser therapy can reduce pain without any side-effects. There are several important facts about laser therapy you should know.
- It can be used for both chronic and acute conditions.
- Most treatments only last ten minutes or less.
- Laser therapy treatments can be customized for each individual.
A physical therapist may use ultrasound to provide safe, effective pain-relief. Ultrasound is a method that delivers deep heat into the body’s soft tissues. There are several specific benefits of using this method. The first is that it can increase circulation to tissues such as ligaments, muscles, and tendons. This can ultimately increase healing and decrease pain. Just increasing the temperature in body tissues can help decrease pain. Ultrasound can be used in physical therapy to treat the following injuries:
- Muscle Strains
- Frozen Shoulder
A physical therapist may use any of the previous methods, or a combination, to effectively treat the root cause of your pain. Physical therapy can provide effective, non-invasive treatment for a wide range of conditions. Whether you’re struggling with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, injuries from an accident, or chronic headaches, physical therapy may provide the answer you’re looking for. Contact our office to find out how a physical therapist can help you eliminate pain and reach your health and wellness goals!