Top Pain Management Methods Employed in Physical Therapy

How Does Physical Therapy Help in Treating Pain?

Pain is a unique experience. Each one suffers differently.

If you’ve been in pain for a while, you learn to work around it and use creative ways to do bursts of activity before the real high-level pain hits you. But pain is not a normal part of everyday life. It’s NOT a normal part of aging.

Pain is your body telling you that something’s wrong and needs to be addressed. Study the pain and look back on what activities triggered it. If you listen to your body, it will whisper back what’s wrong. If you ignore the pain, there will come a time when your body screams its agony.

The typical route for pain relief is to take pain medication. It’s convenient, it’s easy to do. But prolonged use of pain medications, especially powerful opioids, has seldom produced long-lasting pain relief. Instead, addiction to pain medications have become a reality. Abusing opioids for their morphine-like “high” has become commonplace and the federal government has been fighting the criminal enterprise of opioid and narcotic supply and demand to address this issue.

The healthcare industry has then looked at alternative methods to address pain in patients. Physical therapy provided some answers.

Pain Relief that Doesn’t Involve Pills or Surgery

Non-invasive pain relief methods are commonly used by physical therapists to empower their patients to fight pain conservatively. PT involves treatments which focus on the prevention and management of disabilities and injuries. Physical therapy does not just help relieve pain, it promotes healing, restores movement, and optimizes function. Patient care should only be performed by a well-trained physical therapist who is licensed in the state where he’s working.

A therapist might focus on eliminating pain with active or passive therapy. Outlined below are examples of physical therapy methods that address acute or chronic pain:

Manual Therapies

It is a hands-on approach that separates physical therapists from most health practitioners. Manual therapeutic methods like soft tissue & joint mobilization, tactile cues, massage, and manual strengthening to reeducate a patient’s body to correct movement patterns and postures are effective in reducing or eliminating tissue restrictions and help the patients move with ease.

Ice/Heat Packs

Heat is helpful to the lingering injuries that cause soft tissue or joint stiffness and muscle spasms. Heat leads to vasodilation that can reduce spasm and boost mobility in soft tissues like tendons, muscles, and ligaments.

Relaxed, more pliable, and softer tissues react better to stretching. Heating methods involve hydrocollator packs, whirlpool, hot paraffin wax or fluidotherapy – both methods are used mainly for hands.

Electrical Stimulation like ES-TENS

This method is very effective in relieving pain and spasm. It can also help restore the lost muscular strength. Electrical stimulation is a typical treatment choice used for various purposes. Depending on the recent parameters like duration, waveform, and frequency.

This modality could help contract or relax the muscles or change the pain reaction from an irritated or injured tissue. Common forms of electrical stimulation include NMES or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, NMES or neuromuscular electrical stimulation, and IFC/H-wave or interferential current.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound uses sound waves to generate heat in different tissue depths. It modulates the natural healing response of your body and prepares the tissues for exercise and stretching.

EPAT or Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology

EPAT is the evidence-based treatment for patients who deal with chronic and acute musculoskeletal injuries. This technology originated in Europe and is a care standard in most parts of the world for relieving chronic musculoskeletal problems.

Dry Needling

It is the technique used by a physical therapist in treating movement impairments and pain. This technique uses the “dry” needle, the one with no injection or medicine. He will insert this needle through your skin into your muscle. Dry needling isn’t acupuncture, but a part of the modern Western medicinal principles backed by research.

Cupping

It is the ancient type of alternative medicine wherein the therapist uses special cups and puts them on the skin for some minutes to form suction. People undergo cupping therapy for some reasons, such as to relieve pain and inflammation, increase blood flow, promote relaxation and overall wellness. Cupping therapy also works as a kind of deep-tissue massage. Those special cups a therapist may use can be made of glass, bamboo, silicone, and earthenware.

On the other hand, active physical therapy involves:

  • Movement-based activities such as stretching and various motion exercises
  • Pain relief exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Low-impact aerobic conditioning