When you are injured or in pain, exercising (or physical therapy) may be one of the last things you feel like doing. Ironically, performing strategic exercises under the guidance of a skilled physical therapist is actually one of the most effective ways to achieve long-term pain relief, recover from an injury, or learn to cope with chronic injury or pain.
Why is Physical Therapy Important?
Unlike narcotics that mask symptoms of pain for a limited period of time, physical therapy achieves long-lasting changes to your body (and, often, to your mood!) When you undergo physical therapy, you gradually build muscle mass and regain strength and mobility. These benefits reduce or eliminate pain. Additionally, exercise (even light exercise) releases endorphins – “feel-good” chemicals that are naturally present in the body that boosts mood and reduces feelings of pain. Physical therapy is an effective part of the treatment protocol for patients suffering from many back pain-causing injuries and conditions.
What to Expect When Your Pain Specialist Prescribes Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is exercise, but it is a highly targeted, supervised exercise regimen designed to target the source of your pain – and to be safe so you do not injure or re-injure yourself. Physical therapy sessions are led by a certified physical therapist. Think of this individual as your coach – who will be by your side to demonstrate exercises, ensure you’re performing them correctly, and provide encouragement and positive feedback so you’ll be motivated to work hard.
The causes of pain vary, and your physical therapist will choose exercises based on your unique situation. Examples of exercise you may be assigned include core-strengthening exercises (such as sit-ups, crunches, planks, and leg raises) to strengthen the abdominal and lower back muscles; squats to build muscle strength in your legs and lower body, and stretches to prevent muscle atrophy and improve range of motion.
The length and duration of your physical therapy appointments will depend on the causes and severity of your pain. As your physical therapy program progresses and you become stronger, your therapist will likely modify your program so you’ll continue to improve.
Physical Therapy as Part of an Integrative Approach
When you are prescribed physical therapy, this is usually in combination with other treatment modalities. More often than not, these treatment modalities work to compliment each other in order to help alleviate chronic pain. As chronic pain is a complex problem, the approach to treatment often requires a multimodal approach. Physical therapy is usually a key factor in this approach and it is essential to incorporate into a well-developed pain treatment plan.
If you are in the Greater Houston area and are experiencing any chronic pain, please contact Space City Pain Specialists. We will have a consultation and will discuss if the incorporation of a physical therapy program would be right specifically for you and your situation.