A physical therapist is an expert in movement and can pinpoint issues with your muscles, joints, and balance. They provide a drug-free alternative to pain control and can help you return to your normal life activities faster.
Physical therapists can help you avoid injury by screening for risk factors like osteoporosis and arthritis. They also use methods such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and ice to improve mobility.
1. Relieve Pain
In addition to addressing the pain itself, physical therapy can also help patients learn how to manage their symptoms. This can include education about pain, stress management and healthy sleep habits. These strategies may also aim to improve strength, power, endurance, balance, posture and mobility.
Studies show that PT reduces pain by reducing inflammation, which is a natural reaction to sickness and damage to the body. It also helps the sympathetic nervous system control inflammatory chemicals that cause swelling and pain.
A therapist can perform hands-on treatments to ease pain, such as joint manipulations and massages. They can also use modalities, such as heat or cold, electrical stimulation and ultrasound. They can also teach you how to exercise at home to improve pain, strength and flexibility. Unlike medication, which masks the pain, these treatments get to the root of the problem to provide lasting relief. They can even eliminate or lessen your need for prescription medications.
2. Strengthen Muscles
Whether you are suffering from chronic pain due to illness or injury, or want to step up your game in your chosen sport, physical therapy is an excellent way to reduce symptoms, strengthen muscles and improve overall health. In fact, studies have shown that a regular physical therapy regimen can help you avoid relying on prescription or over-the-counter medications like opioids to relieve pain.
Physical therapists often focus on core strength to alleviate discomfort from back, neck and knee injuries as well as joint pain caused by conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. They also teach people with balance problems, who may use assistive devices such as canes and crutches to prevent falls, how to move more safely.
For patients with leg weakness, which can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency, the physical therapist will prescribe exercises that strengthen the muscles, including moving on parallel bars and walking with assistance. This can be life-changing for people who struggle with simple daily activities such as climbing stairs or getting up from a chair.
3. Increase Flexibility
One of the primary goals of physical therapy is to improve your ability to move and reduce pain. Your physical therapist may use a range of techniques, from massage to joint manipulation and muscle-strengthening exercises, to help you relieve pain and regain your flexibility.
A therapist’s focus on restoring flexibility is often crucial to helping patients manage chronic pain syndromes like fibromyalgia, which cause tight muscles that limit mobility and trigger referred pain in other areas of the body. Regular stretching is essential to regaining flexibility and decreasing your risk for injury.
Flexibility is also key for maintaining a good balance, which can decrease as you age and with certain health conditions like osteoporosis. Your therapist may recommend simple balance exercises, such as standing on one foot for short bursts of time or beginner’s yoga. These are often part of the rehabilitation process, but can be done at home as a regular exercise routine. It’s a great way to reduce the risk of falls and other serious injuries.
4. Improve Overall Health
With the use of manual therapy treatments like soft tissue mobilization, ultrasound, electric stimulation, and targeted exercises, physical therapists improve overall health by increasing muscle strength, flexibility and endurance. This also promotes proper body alignment, increases balance and coordination, and reduces risk of injury during daily activities.
In addition, physical therapy can reduce pain and discomfort from many conditions. This can also lead to a decreased need for prescription drugs and even the possibility of avoiding surgery in certain cases.
Physical therapists are highly trained medical professionals who work with people of all ages to help them improve or restore movement, mobility, strength, range of motion and quality of life through prescribed exercise, patient education, manual therapy and a variety of other techniques. It’s a safe, effective treatment option for almost any condition or injury. Request a physical therapy appointment today! Boost your health and get back to doing the things you love. Your quality of life depends on it.