Transformative Power of Physical Therapy for Pain Management

Using physical therapy for pain management can lead to lasting relief and improved bodily function. Tailored exercises, stretches, and therapeutic techniques, physical therapy empowers individuals to take control of their pain, enhance their mobility, and reclaim a higher quality of life.

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Transformative Power of Physical Therapy for Pain Management
5 Min Read October 27th, 2023

Lots of people suffer with pain. With 9.7 million people over 12 misusing painkillers in America, they have become the most-abused type of prescription drug. Due to their highly addictive nature, many people today are seeking alternatives to prescription drugs to help ease their chronic pain.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reveals that in the last year, 64% of U.S. adults aged 50 and above utilized painkillers, splitting into 42% using prescribed options and 22% opting for over-the-counter variants.

Concurrently, the Canadian Institute for Health Information's 2021 survey indicates that 58% of Canadians over 50 years old took pain relievers in the preceding year, with prescription users at 35% and over-the-counter users at 23%.

Meanwhile, a 2022 European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) report highlights that in the European Union, 56% of those 50 and older consumed analgesics in the past year, comprising 33% prescription and 23% over-the-counter users.

Physical Therapy as a Key to Pain Management

Physical therapy is a crucial component in pain management, employing diverse strategies to aid individuals in navigating injuries or ailments impacting their day-to-day activities. It strives to reinstate the body’s optimal performance, enhance movement, and alleviate pain. 

There are many benefits of utilizing physical therapy as a potent means for managing pain. Research has shown that physical therapy can effectively reduce pain and improve independence in older adults. For example, a study published in the journal Physical Therapy found that physical therapy effectively reduced pain and improved function in older adults with knee osteoarthritis.

Another study published in The Gerontologist Journal found that physical therapy effectively reduced the risk of falls and fractures in older adults.

Personalized Pain Management

Physical therapy offers a personalized approach to pain relief, distinguishing itself from general pain medications that address a wide audience. Physical therapists conduct in-depth evaluations of their patients, considering individual conditions and needs, to formulate a customized pain management plan to alleviate discomfort and enhance functional movement.

Through a detailed assessment, physical therapists design a unique regimen of exercises, movements, and stretches. This regimen focuses on safely and efficiently mitigating inflammation, fortifying muscles, and enhancing joint flexibility, all while delivering precise pain relief tailored to the patient's specific requirements.

Addressing Everyone's Needs

The versatility and comprehensiveness of physical therapy make it a viable option for individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their health condition, fitness level, age, or the particular pain they are dealing with.

It caters to a diverse population, from seniors grappling with chronic pain in areas like the back, hips, or knees to active individuals dealing with ongoing sports-related injuries. A physical therapist is adept at assessing each individual's unique situation and developing a customized plan aimed at enhancing their mobility and alleviating their pain.

Moreover, physical therapy goes beyond just addressing the pain; it also focuses on the root cause of the discomfort, promoting long-term health and preventing future injuries. This holistic approach ensures that individuals not only experience relief in the short term but also enjoy a sustained improvement in their overall quality of life.

So many people need physical therapy, especially with an aging society and the need for PT in long-term care settings, that the demand for physical therapists is increasing. You can visit the following website to learn about the benefits of a career in physical therapy.

Enhancing Pain Management with Physical Therapy

While medical interventions such as prescription pain medications (including opioids and NSAIDs) and corticosteroid injections often provide immediate relief for chronic pain, physical therapy emerges as a valuable adjunct treatment. This approach offers a non-pharmacological and potentially more sustainable solution for pain management. 

Integrating physical therapy with medical treatments not only aids in expediting recovery but also contributes significantly to the healing process, ensuring a comprehensive approach to pain relief.

Addressing Pain at the Source

Physical therapy distinguishes itself from pain medications by focusing on the root cause of a patient’s discomfort and mobility restrictions. This method not only aims for lasting relief but also strives to diminish or entirely remove the necessity for pain medications.

Through customized plans crafted to meet the unique health needs and pain management goals of each individual, physical therapy encourages enhanced health and decreases dependency on drugs. This strategy further lowers the potential for addiction, promoting a safer path to recovery.

Aging and PT in Long-Term Care 

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in long-term care settings, significantly impacting the lives of older adults by enhancing their quality of life and fostering independence. As individuals age, they may encounter various challenges, such as decreased mobility, loss of strength, and balance issues, leading to a diminished ability to perform daily activities. Physical therapy interventions are tailored to address these challenges, ensuring that older adults can maintain an active and fulfilling lifestyle.

In long-term care situations, physical therapists work closely with older adults to assess their physical capabilities and develop personalized rehabilitation plans. These plans often include exercises designed to improve strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility. For instance, a physical therapist might introduce leg strengthening exercises to an older adult with difficulty standing up from a seated position or balance exercises for someone at risk of falls. By focusing on these key areas, physical therapy helps to reduce the risk of injuries, enhance mobility, and promote overall physical health.

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Beyond physical rehabilitation, physical therapy in long-term care settings also addresses the psychosocial aspects of aging. Engaging in regular physical activity has been shown to boost mood, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve cognitive function. 

Physical therapists are vital in motivating older adults to stay active, providing encouragement and support that extends beyond the physical realm. In this way, physical therapy contributes to a holistic approach to care, addressing both the physical and emotional well-being of older adults.

Prolonging Independence

Moreover, physical therapy aids in prolonging independence for older adults. This is crucial for their self-esteem and quality of life. Through targeted exercises and training, physical therapists empower older people to perform daily tasks such as dressing, cooking, and bathing more independently. This enhances their sense of autonomy and reduces the burden on caregivers and family members.

Health insurance and Medicare will pay for some physical therapy, but it is more limited. Those with Lon-Term Care Insurance will have benefits for PT if it is part of their plan of care to assist the care recipient with daily ADLS and IADLs. 

From targeted pain relief to a healthier and non-toxic route to recovery, physical therapy can be an invaluable tool to help those suffering from chronic pain.

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About the Author

Marcus Howard is a writer with years of experience in the field of alternative health. He has written extensively on a variety of topics, including CBD, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and the use of alternative health options for older adults.

LTC News Contributor Marcus Howard

Marcus Howard

Contributor since July 5th, 2023

Editor's Note

When you or a loved one requires long-term care due to difficulties with activities of daily living (ADLs) or the need for supervision, a wide array of services is essential to support health and well-being. These services are broadly categorized into skilled and semi-skilled care, each playing a vital role in maintaining quality of life. Many of us will need some type of long-term care service as we age; being prepared makes this period easier on the entire family.

Skilled services, typically provided by medical professionals, encompass nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and medical social services. Traditional health insurance, including Medicare, usually pays for 100 days of skilled services. 

These services are indispensable if you are recovering from surgery, illness, or managing a chronic condition. Skilled nursing care includes wound care, medication management, intravenous therapy, and other medical necessities. 

Physical therapy aids in improving your mobility, balance, and strength, while occupational therapy helps enhance your ability to perform everyday tasks. Speech therapy is crucial if you are dealing with communication issues or swallowing disorders. Medical social services provide the necessary counseling and resources to help you cope with the challenges posed by aging.

On the other hand, semi-skilled services, or custodial care, assist with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting. These expenses are never paid for by health insurance or Medicare. However, both Long-Term Care Insurance and Medicaid (for those with little or no income and assets) will pay for this custodial care.

These services also extend to help with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) like housekeeping, meal preparation, and medication reminders, usually provided by home health aides and personal care attendants. 

These services are crucial in maintaining your dignity, safety, and comfort, ensuring you can live as independently as possible.

Obtaining Long-Term Care Insurance (LTC Insurance) is a wise decision, as it covers the expenses associated with both skilled and semi-skilled long-term care services. By securing LTC Insurance, you can protect your income and assets from the high costs of long-term care, preserving your hard-earned savings for your use or to pass on to your family. 

What Is Long-Term Care Insurance & What Does It Cover?

Additionally, having LTC Insurance reduces the emotional and physical strain on your family members, who might otherwise bear the burden of caregiving. It ensures you have access to quality care services, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or a nursing home, providing peace of mind to both you and your family.

LTC Insurance emerges as a vital resource, offering financial protection and facilitating access to necessary care services, ensuring dignity and autonomy in the later stages of life.

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Seek guidance from an independent Long-Term Care Insurance expert representing leading insurance companies. They can design coverage based on your age, health, and family history, ensuring affordability. With premiums that vary dramatically between insurance companies and diverse underwriting criteria, partnering with an LTC Insurance expert simplifies and streamlines the selection process for you and your partner so you can get great coverage at the lowest cost possible.

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For those covered by an LTC Insurance policy, utilizing the benefits promptly is advisable. Timely access to quality care significantly enhances the recipient's quality of life.

LTC NEWS has joined forces with Amada Senior Care, a leading in-home healthcare agency with a nationwide presence, to assist you in processing claims from any LTC Insurance policy.

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