Why See a Physical Therapist?

You’re not meant to take prescription drugs to solve every problem. Sometimes you can avoid surgery and still experience relief. Physical therapy is the natural way to recover movement, treat pain, restore function and prevent disability.

About Physical Therapists

Physical therapists (PTs) are experts in human movement and rehabilitation, making them essential members of any treatment team.

 

PTs are health care professionals with clinical doctorates who evaluate and treat people of all ages with medical problems or other health-related conditions limiting the ability to move and function. They practice in outpatient clinics, hospitals, sports training facilities and in the armed services.

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work directly with PTs in a supervised manner to provide therapeutic treatments and interventions.

What Can Physical Therapists Do?

The primary role of a PT is to examine and evaluate each person’s “movement system,” which is highly complex and involves the cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, and nervous systems, as well as the skin, muscles and bones.

 

PTs diagnose issues with the human movement system and provide customized treatment and an integrated plan of care for the best possible prognosis.

 

Physical therapists can:

  • Help people avoid surgery and eliminate pain without the use of medication.

  • Restore mobility and prevent loss of mobility before it occurs.

  • Prevent injury to the ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

  • Help infants and children develop healthy motor skills and improve play, eating, and sleeping.

  • Assist seniors in maintaining health, wellness and independence by reducing fall risks and improving bone health, flexibility, muscle strength and cardiovascular health.

Pain Management & Addictive Drug Alternatives

Pain is often the reason why people enter the health care system. Over the last 20 years, health care providers have increasingly tried to help patients manage pain by prescribing opioids – highly addictive medications whose misuse has become a raging epidemic that kills 115 Americans every day.

 

In Florida alone, prescription drugs are responsible for more than 60 percent of all narcotics found in drug-related deaths. Opioid use disorders increased more than 750 percent over the past 26 years in Florida, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

Physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are on the front lines of Florida’s battle against pain. They are often essential members of the health care team necessary to successfully manage chronic pain and even assist with addiction recovery.

The CDC recommends physical therapy as a natural alternative to opioid pain killers (such as oxycontin and fentanyl) and other prescription drugs. Why? Because prescription pain relievers only mask pain, while physical therapy treats the underlying causes of pain. Physical therapy gives you power over pain by restoring movement and mobility to minimize and even stop the pain.

 

PTs commonly work with patients to alleviate pain involving the neck, shoulders, lower back, and knees.

For example:

 

  • Early physical therapy treatment within two weeks for neck, knee or back pain reduces the odds of needing opioids by up to 60 percent. [1],[2],[3],[4]

  • 80 percent of patients with knee, back, and shoulder disorders remain opioid-free for a year following physical therapy. [5]

  • By increasing physical activity, you can also reduce your risk of other chronic diseases. [6]

[1] Horn ME, George SZ, Fritz JM. Influence of Initial Provider on Health Care Utilization in Patients Seeking Care for Neck Pain. Mayo Clin Proc Inn Qual Out Oct 19, 2017; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocpiqo.2017.09.001.

[2] Stevans JM, Fitzgerald GK, Piva SR, Schneider M. Association of early outpatient rehabilitation with health service utilization in managing Medicare beneficiaries with nontraumatic knee pain: Retrospective cohort study. Phys Ther. 2017; 97:615–624.

[3] Childs JD, Fritz JM, Wu SS, Flynn TW, Wainner RS, Robertson EK, Kim FS, George SZ. Implications of early and guideline adherent physical therapy for low back pain on utilization and costs. BMC Health Serv Res. 2015; 15: 150.

[4] Fritz JM, Childs JD, Wainner RS, Flynn TW. Primary care referral of patients with low back pain to physical therapy: impact on future health care utilization and costs. Spine. 2012; 37(25): 2114-21.

[5] Lentz TA, Beneciuk JM, George SZ.​ Prediction of healthcare utilization following an episode of physical therapy for musculoskeletal pain. BMC Health Serv Res. 2018 Aug 20;18(1):648.

[6] Mayo Clinic. Exercise and chronic disease: Get the facts. 2015.

Fall Prevention

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among people 65 and older. Two-thirds of seniors who fall will do so again within six months.

 

But falls – especially falls that result in injuries – can be prevented with physical therapy.

 

Physical therapists provide fall risk screenings, and then use each assessment to tailor an individualized program geared toward strengthening balance, overcoming impairment and improving mobility. They can provide a fall risk screening in any setting. It can be done in a hospital, medical clinic, nursing home, or a senior or community center like the YMCA.

Surgical Alternatives & Rehabilitative Medicine

Dealing with a non-traumatic injury? Physical therapy is a good first step. Have you already been told you need surgery? Consider trying physical therapy first.

 

A growing body of research supports physical therapy as an alternative to surgery, especially for back, knee and rotator cuff issues.

Not only can physical therapy help prevent the need for surgery in the first place, but it can play a major role in surgical recovery.

Physical therapy is a key part of recovery from nearly any operation. Why? After surgery, bones, muscles and soft tissues start to heal, and if you don’t use them, they can heal improperly – causing pain and limiting your range of motion, function and mobility.

 

Physical therapists work with you to keep you moving. They ensure that your surgery is a success by making sure you heal properly. And they help you avoid long-term pain and medication.

 
 
 

PT for Pain is a project of the Florida Physical Therapy Association (FPTA), dedicated to improving the health, wellness and quality of life of people in Florida by advancing the practice of physical therapy. The FPTA educates Floridians, health care providers, and public policy decision-makers about the key role physical therapists and physical therapist assistants play in restoring and improving motion, as well as in improving the health of society.

 

For more information, visit www.FPTA.org. Additional resources are available at www.MoveForwardPT.com/FL

800 N Calhoun St #1A
Tallahassee, FL 32303

Phone: 850.222.1243
Fax: 850.224.5281

info@fpta.org

© 2019 PT For Pain