The American Physical Therapy Association names October as National Physical Therapy Month, and we’re ready to celebrate! The goal for this month is to “[optimize] movement to enhance the human experience” through the wonders of physical therapy. The commemoration is meant to benefit the community while also showing appreciation for physical therapists all over the United States. Each year, The American Physical Therapy Association selects a theme to represent the physical therapy community.
For 2019, their choice is #ChoosePT, a campaign dedicated to the encouragement of physical therapy as an alternative to pain-killing opioids. The overarching goal is to decrease addictive opioid usage resulting from prescriptions, replacing the drugs with physical solutions to ease ailments. Here is what you need to know about physical therapy and how it can help you and your entire community.
The Opioid Crisis in the United States is a massive threat to the general public, as rates of addiction and overdoses are at shockingly high levels, rising 20 percent in recent years. This epidemic is what the ChoosePT campaign is all about: getting people healthier solutions for their pain and injury. The most common origin of opioid addiction in the U.S. is the abuse of medications given for post-op care and injury-related pain management.
To combat this, Sports Medicine Specialists are starting to recommend physical therapy as an initial alternative to excessive prescription writing. The risks associated with pain medications vary in severity based on countless invisible factors such as family history of addiction and personal drug history. These types of risks are usually invisible to a doctor without patient disclosure, so typically, staying away from opioids as a first solution is considered the safest option to avoid possible drug addiction. Physical therapy can eliminate the need for drugs by alleviating pain through strategic treatment at the source. Steady normalization of this mentality ultimately leads to less opioid prescriptions being written and results in lowered rates of abuse and overdoses. The standardization of utilizing physical therapy before prescriptions is expected to be a massive boost in overall public health and wellbeing.
There is a wide variety of ways that physical therapists treat and heal their patients. Physical therapy solutions include, but are not limited to: massage, heat therapy, and exercise. Massage and heat therapy are often used to treat pulls, tears, and strains in muscles, and physical therapists utilize these methods to treat more minor injuries without prescription intervention. Guided exercise is typically focused around improving your range of motion in a particular joint or bodily area, and this option is often utilized for post-op patients trying to regain function. While most commonly used to treat joints, this exercise can also benefit muscle groups by stretching the muscles, increasing flexibility, and resulting in boosted function.
Some of the most common injuries and ailments that benefit from physical therapy are:
While these are common instances where physical therapy is used, it’s not a complete list. The capabilities of physical therapists are adaptive and transformative depending on their unique patients. If proper physical therapy treatments are in place, it can oftentimes help to prevent the need for surgical intervention, as it can slow and reverse the effects of ailments such as those listed above.
Physical therapy can be immensely beneficial for those who are recovering from surgery. If surgery is necessary, physical therapy becomes a crucial part of the rehabilitation process. It can restore the proper function of the afflicted area after the trauma of the procedure.
If you’re suffering from chronic or persistent pain, physical therapy might be your ticket to relief. If you’re suffering from joint pain such as Arthritis, Osteoporosis, or general muscle achiness, contact a physical therapist about what exercises or other forms of therapy might be right for you.
As previously mentioned, if you’re a post-op patient and wary of taking prescription painkillers to smooth the recovery process, physical therapy can be a safer way to go. You may be able to achieve similar results and even go beyond the range of motion you expected from opioids with the help of a professional and persistent exercises. Also, if you’re currently using an opioid pain killer and you’re worried about your risk of addiction, physical therapy can be a risk-free alternative to explore to accomplish the same goals.
In honor of National Physical Therapy Month, make an appointment with the Woodlands Sports Medicine team!