Physical Therapy and Chronic Pain Management: A Winning Approach

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Physical therapy is a type of care or treatment that is administered by licensed physical therapists. It involves physical treatments to help a patient recover from a certain injury, immobility, or surgery. You can access physical therapy services in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.

For example, stroke patients usually have mobility problems, though brain damage caused by a stroke can be immediately treated, regaining mobility can be hard. But with the help of stroke rehabilitation, a type of neurological physical therapy, the patient can regain his/her strength faster and earlier than expected.

Benefits of Physical Therapy

If you still don’t know what good physical therapy can do to your physical health, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital offers a list of benefits you can reap from it including:

  • It improves mobility
  • It improves balance
  • It helps alleviate pain
  • It helps you recover from a stroke
  • It helps you recover from injuries
  • It helps avoid possible surgery
  • It helps manage age-related conditions

Who Needs Therapy?

Physical therapy helps patients recover from a wide variety of illnesses. Doctors sometimes refer their patients to physical therapists to assist them throughout their recovery period especially if it involves injuries. However, some standalone physical therapists can cater to people’s physical health needs such as people with:

  1. Cardiopulmonary conditions - This refers to health conditions involving the heart and lungs. Examples of these conditions are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Chronic Bronchitis, Heart Failure, and Emphysema.
  2. Immobility - This refers to conditions that affect mobility in the hands, joints, and feet. Examples of conditions that involve mobility problems include Stroke, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritis, and Spinal Cord Injury.
  3. Musculoskeletal dysfunction - These refer to disorders that affect movements and bodily functions specifically in the nerves, tendons, ligaments, or blood vessels. Examples of musculoskeletal dysfunction are Arthritis, Tendon Strain, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorders.
  4. Neurological conditions - Diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Brain Injuries, and other spinal conditions fall under neurological conditions.
  5. Pediatric conditions - These refer to conditions that affect infants, children, and adolescents. Several examples of pediatric conditions that can be treated by physical therapy include Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, and Spina Bifida.
  6. Skin conditions - Skin burns and other skin conditions can also affect one’s mobility and senses.
  7. Pelvic floor dysfunction - This refers to the difficulty to excrete feces and urinate due to problems in the pelvic floor muscles.

What to Expect in a Physical Therapy

Before undergoing physical therapy, you first need to go through a thorough examination. This will help ensure that you are going to receive the right physical therapy depending on your condition. In this phase, expect that your physical therapist will:

  • Ask questions regarding your existing condition (e.g., when it started, what were your previous treatments, how severe the condition is, etc.)
  • Undergo tests to measure your physical abilities (e.g., how well you move your extremities, walk, and standup)

After going through these tests, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist specializing in your condition. Generally, physical therapy involves:

  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Electrotherapy or ultrasound
  • Deep soft tissue massage
  • Functional training

Note: Learn more about the specific types of physical therapy in the next part of the article.

Types of Physical Therapy

There are different types of physical therapy and each is specialized for specific conditions. According to Medical News Today, these types include:

Orthopedic physical therapy - This type of physical therapy is intended to treat and improve your musculoskeletal systems such as your bones, joints, tissues, muscles, and tendons.

You may undergo passive modalities which refer to treatments that involve medications. Another is active modalities wherein you will engage in specialized physical exercises. Specifically, it involves:

  • Hot or cold therapy
  • Exercise therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Soft tissue manipulation

Neurological physical therapy - Patients with mobility problems due to illness and injury in the brain may be referred to a neurological physical therapist. In this physical therapy, patients may undergo:

  • Gait training
  • Postural re-alignment
  • Visual perceptual skill training
  • Prothesis training

Cardiovascular physical therapy - This type of therapy helps patients with cardiopulmonary diseases so that they can learn breathing techniques and improve their heart function. Treatments may include:

  • Graded Cardiovascular exercise
  • Graded resistance exercise
  • Breathing exercises
  • Airway clearance techniques

Vestibular therapy - This type of therapy is intended for patients suffering from vestibular injuries caused by an ear infection, neck injury, or head trauma. Treatments may include specialized movements and exercise therapy to regain one’s balance, coordination, and senses.

Decongestive therapy - This type of therapy is used to treat patients with Lymphedema, or the abnormal accumulation of fluid in different parts of the body. Treatments may include:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage
  • Compression therapy
  • Exercise therapy/specialized movements

Wound care therapy - From the term itself, wound care therapy is specifically used to ensure that a wound is healing properly. Wound care therapy treats necrotic wounds, arterial wounds, and unstageable pressure ulcers. Treatments may include:

  • Electrical stimulation
  • Compression therapy
  • Ultrasound mist therapy

Pelvic floor rehabilitation - This type of therapy is for the treatment of pelvic floor disorders (e.g., constipation, frequent peeing, etc) due to previous injury or surgery. It is useful to relieve pelvic pain as well. Pelvic floor rehabilitation may include treatments like:

  • Trigger point therapy
  • Kegel exercises
  • Electrical stimulation

Pediatric physical therapy - This kind of therapy is specifically for infants, children, and adolescents who are suffering from various conditions like Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Developmental Delays, and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Various activities that a Physical Therapist will administer to these young patients include:

  • Using exercise balls
  • Balance beam exercises
  • Other exercises to improve coordination and balance.
Where Can I Find a Physical Therapist?

You might be asking yourself where you can find a physical therapist. Fortunately, finding is an easy task for you because there are a lot of sources you can try. To begin your journey, start by visiting places that offer services:

  1. Hospitals
  2. Clinics
  3. Nursing homes
  4. Rehab centers
  5. Sports medicine offices
  6. Assisted living homes

You can also follow the tips below for more convenience on your lookout.


Physical Therapy offers many benefits to patients with mobility and sensory issues. There are different types of physical therapies depending on the patient’s condition. If you are suffering from mobility and balance problems, you might need to consult a physical therapist.

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