To raise awareness regarding the benefits of physical therapy, October was declared National Physical Therapy Month. In observation of the declaration, we’ve decided to spotlight Physical Therapy in this post. We’ll examine what Physical Therapy is, why it’s important and where you can seek treatment if necessary.
What is Physical Therapy and why is it important?
Physical Therapy (PT) is a practice used to recover from injuries, prevent additional injuries, manage pain (sometimes chronic), improve mobility and help prevent chronic disease. It’s important, because it’s the primary alternative to surgery and narcotics treatment. While it doesn’t always negate the need for surgery or medications, it can significantly reduce the chances of requiring either or both as mandatory treatments.
The 5 Main Types of Physical Therapy
Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy focuses on helping patients who suffer from cardiovascular and pulmonary ailments like heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This type of PT is focused on improving endurance.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy concentrates on restoring function to the musculoskeletal system, which includes ligaments, joints, tendons and bones. Everything from ultrasound to electrical muscle simulation can be used with this form of therapy in addition to traditional stretching and strength training.
Neurological Physical Therapy centers around neurological ailments like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, stroke recovery and spinal cord injuries. Treatments include improving mobility and balance and adapting to mobility loss to resume regular physical activities.
Geriatric Physical Therapy adheres to the specific needs of senior citizens. Treatments aim to increase overall physical fitness, reduce pain and enhance or mobility. Arthritis, cancer, joint replacement and other ailments can all necessitate geriatric PT.
Pediatric Physical Therapy focuses on helping infants, toddlers and young children with developmental delays, genetic disorders, birth defects, muscle diseases, disabilities, head trauma and injuries. Treatments may include teaching proper body mechanics, working on motor skills and therapeutic and range of motion exercises.
Why should Physical Therapy be the first step in resolving pain?
Because of the dangers of opioid addiction and an increase in prescriptions and opioid-related deaths in recent years, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends physical therapy as the first way to treat pain. The specific language can be found here:
The contextual evidence review found that many nonpharmacologic therapies, including physical therapy, weight loss for knee osteoarthritis, psychological therapies such as [cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT], and certain interventional procedures can ameliorate chronic pain.
In addition to the guideline released, the CDC also issued a fact sheet and checklist with basic steps that implied non-opioid therapies should be tested before writing an opioid prescription for a patient.
What type of professional will you work with during Physical Therapy?
The type of professional that will work with you during physical therapy is most often a Physiatrist. This type of doctor is highly trained to focus on whole body treatment. They strive to restore mobility and body function to their patients with minimal use or no use at all of narcotics. Their expertise covers nerves, muscles and bones, allowing them to assess issues and formulate treatment plans in a comprehensive manner.
Physiatrists also promote overall wellness by getting to know the patient and designing a recovery or improvement plan that is tailored specifically to their needs. They will determine whether the patient can perform the therapies on their own or with them, or if they need any additional specialists to support them along the way. They are also authorized to administer injections and write prescriptions if necessary.
Talk to a Doctor
If you’re in need of Physical Therapy, consult with your Western Washington Medical Group Primary Care Provider. For more general health inquiries, complete our Contact Form.