Many Americans deal with chronic pain from acute injuries, longterm conditions, or lingering surgical issues. Physical therapy can help get any pain sufferer back on track.
The best way to make physical therapy work for you is by learning how to get the most out of your sessions. After all, knowledge is power, and physical rehabilitation really boils down to maximizing sessions and then implementing that power at home on non-rehab days.
Physical therapy (PT) is a type of modality that attempts to restore mobility, improve range of motion, and improve physical function. Therapists require certifications; so although they aren’t medical doctors, they do understand the musculature of the body in an advanced way. A good physical therapist can restore significant quality of life through applied kinesiology, stretching, massage, and body work. More importantly, they can reduce the chances of further injuring the affected parts of the body.
Here are 4 benefits of physical therapy, and why you should consider it if you’re dealing with chronic pain
Rehabilitating a sports-related injury
Any sports injury — new or old — can benefit from PT in some way. Even serious injuries which require surgery will need PT to re-strengthen the affected muscles, tendons, and ligaments from the injury.
Most importantly, a good therapist can restore range of motions from old injuries where the connective tissue has contracted. The therapist may use hot/cold modalities, aqua therapies, or targeted pressure to further expedite the process, as well.
And the best part? Many doctors agree that a properly rehabilitated muscle or joint actually heals back stronger than it originally grew naturally.
Supporting neurological conditions
Physical therapy is widely considered the best way to rehabilitate stroke side effects, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and issues related to spinal cord injuries. Research even suggests that falls and other injuries that commonly result from neurological diseases decreased for months or even a year after PT.
For example, common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include balance, weakness, coordination, spasticity and flexibility, aerobic endurance, fatigue, and respiratory function. A good course of PT action improve every single one of these symptoms. With practice, the sufferer can often live a life similar to what they lived before the diagnosis.
Shorten post-surgical recovery
Any orthopedic surgeon will tell you: rehab is just as important to the process of surgical recovery as the surgery itself. Post-surgical PT is mainly designed to improve the range of motion, reduce pain, prevent excessive scar tissue buildup, and regain normal functioning of specific joints.
The same methodology goes for post-surgical patients who were involuntarily admitted (not due to injury, but rather something more invasive). Several studies have proven that early mobilization and physical therapy for critically ill patients who were hospitalized led to a better quality of life, higher likelihood of walking longer distances, and better muscle function upon discharge.
Reduce pelvic floor dysfunction
Women’s pelvic floor muscles face a myriad of obstacles over the course of a lifetime. Pregnancy and birth wreak most of the havoc, but menopause, surgeries, and other issues can significantly weaken or deteriorate those important muscles.
When the muscles get very weak, health issues begin to mount: urinary leaking, low back pain, and sexual dysfunction are just a few common side effects. In other words, women should do whatever they can to strengthen those muscles.
A specialized pelvic floor therapist can help rehab those muscles. In fact, it’s the first-line treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction (which means doctors will prescribe therapy before considering other more invasive options).
So what’s the best way to get the most out of your therapy sessions? Speak up, pay attention, and do the work outside of the appointment. A therapist’s work is only as good as your own commitment level; so don’t cut corners.