When you’re battling constant pain, getting up and moving might be the last thing you want to do. However, physical therapy techniques can significantly improve your pain symptoms while making your body stronger and more flexible.
In addition to stretching, strengthening, and conditioning your body, physical therapists use treatment like heat and ice packs, ultrasound, massage, and electrical stimulation to alleviate pain symptoms. At the Heilman Center, we’ll work with your physical therapy provider to best coordinate your pain treatment.
How Physical Therapy for Pain Works
If you’re like many patients with chronic pain, you’ve lost some of the physical conditioning that you had before your pain symptoms began. You might worry that physical therapy techniques could actually make the pain worse. In reality, physical therapy for pain promotes healing, relieves pain, and restores function for many patients who struggle with chronic pain. Many patients regain at least some of their ability to take pleasure in moderate physical activity. They begin to recover control of their lives. As you get stronger, you’ll grow more confident that you can manage your pain symptoms.
Active physical therapy such as stretching, strengthening exercises, pain relief exercises, and low-impact aerobic conditioning may become part of your pain treatment. However, physical therapy is more than just exercise. Here’s a list of things you might encounter during a physical therapy session:
Education. Physical therapists take the time to teach you about your condition. They also give you techniques, including advice on improving your posture, pacing yourself, and adding movement to your day so that you can better manage pain.
Manual therapy. In addition to exercise, your physical therapist might use massage and certain movements that will improve your joint mobility.
Hot and cold therapies. Hot packs and ultrasound deliver heat to sore tissues to help alleviate pain. Cold therapies like ice packs and ice baths can soothe sore spots and reduce swelling.
Electrical stimulation. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units deliver a safe, gentle stream of electric current to help your nervous system become less sensitive to pain signals.
Motor imagery. The mind can become a powerful ally in helping you regain motor control and confidence. Motor imagery helps you visualize and imagine movement before you make the actual movements. In addition to visualization, your physical therapist might use a mirror or even virtual reality technology to help reconfigure the way your mind responds to pain signals.
Sensory re-education. In response to the injury or disorder that led to your chronic pain, your nervous system might have gone into overdrive. To make it less sensitive to pain signals, your physical therapist might retrain your senses so that pain doesn’t overwhelm your brain.
Physical Therapy and Pain Treatment
At the Heilman Center, we treat the whole patient, and we look at pain treatment from multiple angles. We might recommend interventional procedures for pain relief, but we also believe in the proven effectiveness of physical therapy for pain.
This collaboration helps us to know more about your case. You always know that your team is on the same page about your treatment.
One of the biggest keys to managing your pain is learning smart self-management techniques. Your physical therapist will partner with both you and your doctor to establish a self-management plan that gives you more power over pain. Together, you’ll establish which activities tend to cause the most pain, and you’ll develop strategies to help you enjoy life without worrying about hurting. You’ll also learn ways to handle pain triggers that have nothing to do with movement, including stress and relationship issues.
We know that your mindset it just as important to managing pain as your physical health. The Heilman Center’s team also includes psychologists to improve your mental health and outlook.
Schedule Your Consultation
The Heilman Center pairs the latest technological and medical advances with a supportive, nurturing treatment team that really listens to your concerns. From your first appointment, you’re paired with your own pain specialist who helps you understand your diagnostic and treatment options, and communicate effectively with your entire treatment team. At the Heilman Center, we believe that your best days are ahead of you, not behind you.