Sometimes, pain can be your friend.

Pain can be a helpful reminder when you are moving, letting you know when you are overexerting a muscle, putting too much stress on a joint, or placing too much load on a tendon or ligament.

Other times, pain can be more than just a warning to back off on a certain kind of motion. Pain can become severe, chronic, or both. When this happens, pain management is important to the healing process and to preserve the best possible range of motion for the affected body part.

Physical therapy plays a vital role in restoring and improving bodily motion and managing pain associated with physical injuries or conditions that affect how they move. Let’s go over some ways an experienced physical therapist can help you manage, reduce, or even eliminate pain during your recovery.

How Pain and Motion Go Together

When you have an injury, pain and motion track with one another.

The more you move and the more vigorous your movements, the more pain you experience. However, doing this allows the injured body part to stiffen or heal improperly.

The goal of physical therapy is to help you to recover from an injury. Specifically, physical therapy seeks to help you regain, as much as possible, your ability to engage in the life activities you enjoyed before the injury.

A key objective of physical therapy is to preserve and restore range of motion. This often means exercising the injured muscle, limb, or joint to steadily re-acquaint it with doing more and going farther over time.

Accordingly, physical therapy treatments and exercises need to consider pain management.

This is true because the patient associates physical therapy itself with pain and unpleasantness,. The therapist will ensure the patient’s full compliance with the treatment planif it gets harder and if the patient may not realize the full benefit of the therapy.

How Does Physical Therapy Treat Pain?

Physical therapy combines treatment methods and patient education to achieve improved range of motion. These include manual therapy techniques, modalities, exercise regimens, and patient education.

Some of the techniques your physical therapist may use include:

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises for muscles.
  • Wound care therapy using non-invasive treatments.
  • Orthopedic physical therapy for musculoskeletal injuries.
  • Low-impact aerobics.

Although physical therapy is not solely concerned with pain management, pain management is often integral to the treatments that physical therapists employ.  For example, beneficial effects of manual therapy, like increased blood flow to injured muscle tissue and loosening of stiff joints, can also contribute to reduced pain as a secondary benefit of treating the source of the injury.

Physical Therapy and Pain Treatment

Your physical therapist can help you with acute and chronic problems connected with a physical injury or condition. Methods include identifying the specific muscles and joints that are the source of the pain and how to adjust or correct your movements to reduce it, and exercise programs to help relieve pain.

Other Ways Physical Therapy Contributes to Long-Term Pain Management

Many people think of physical therapy as something that happens in the aftermath of an accident or other injury-causing event. This is true, to a certain extent. But physical therapy can help to reduce and prevent pain in more ways than post-injury treatments alone.

Below are some of the ways a physical therapist can help you to manage pain issues after and in some cases even before an injury.

Physical Therapy Can Contribute to Pain-Free Life Activities

Physical therapy is effective in treating many kinds of limiting injuries and conditions that, left untreated, could affect your ability to engage in seemingly simple life activities but which are in fact important to your ability to live a pain-free, productive, meaningful life.

For example, a treatment plan can focus on helping you to strengthen muscles in your legs and stabilize your hip, knee, or ankle joints, helping you to walk with less pain. Posture correction therapy is another way a physical therapist can help overcome a problem that could otherwise limit your ability to move and become a chronic source of pain.

Physical Therapy Can Lessen Pain From Surgery

Physical therapy can certainly help to reduce the pain you experience as you recover from surgery. It can also help to reduce post-operative pain by reducing the need for future surgery, or if such surgery is necessary, then it can still make your recovery faster and less painful.

Physical Therapy Can Prevent Future Injuries and Future Pain

Physical therapists are trained to think ahead when treating patients. This means anticipating patients’ future risks of motion-based injury, and helping patients to make adjustments to their activities to reduce those risks.

  • For people whose occupations make them more susceptible to repeat injuries, physical therapy can include exercises and other techniques to help strengthen vulnerable muscles and joints, making them more resistant to injury and better able to support pain-free use.
  • Physical therapy can be effective enough in treatment to avoid the need for surgery, itself a procedure that can involve considerable pain. It can also reduce the need to rely on post-surgery anti-inflammatory and pain-killer medications like opioids.
  • For elderly patients, physical therapy can play a role in helping them to better maintain balance and coordination when engaged in activities, thereby reducing the risk of accidental falls and the painful injuries they can lead to.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help You?

Decades ago, a television entertainment series featured a character known as the “Old Country Doctor.” Each skit involving the doctor went the same: a patient would describe to him how a certain kind of activity or motion would cause discomfort and ask how to reduce the pain.

The doctor’s advice was the same every time: “Don’t do that.”

Today, having available modern physical therapy techniques and the trained physical therapists that use them, like the ones at Advanced Spine and Pain, means that giving up in the face of pain is not something you should resign yourself to.

Advanced Spine and Pain provides the most effective, minimally-invasive pain care services with the highest standards of safety and patient care in the state of Arizona. We are proud to offer some of the most cutting-edge treatments in pain care today, and our providers are dedicated to creating the most successful pain management program for your individual needs.

M&F and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.