In recent years, people experiencing chronic pains, may it be due to overexertion, old age, or a past injury, have become less dependent on generic anti-inflammatory drugs and more in favor of therapist-assisted treatment.
Compared to over-the-counter drugs, which might only work so far as temporarily alleviating pain, physical therapists can actually assess the root of the problem to help restore your bones, muscles, and joints back to optimal performance.
But did you know that the term physical therapy actually encapsulates a slew of different treatment plans, some of which are highly specialized to deal with specific problems and pain points?
If you’re not sure about which specialized treatment to sign up for, you can start with any of the following popular treatments that are known for making patients feel better almost instantaneously.
1. Temperature Therapy
Ice/heat therapy is often employed for patients that are struggling with inflammatory issues after sustaining an injury. Applying cold packs to problem areas is known to take the swelling in soft tissue injuries down a notch. In the same vein, heat therapy is used to increase mobility and decrease pain in injured areas.
The thing to note is that temperature therapy is not a standalone treatment. These are usually done to make the tissues more pliable, and thus more responsive to manual therapy… If self-treating, you just have to know when to use heat or ice for pain.
2. Trigger Point Therapy
Just like acupuncture, dry needling is a pain management technique that deals with inserting monofilament needles on various trigger points throughout the body. Put simply, the goal in inserting dry needles is to ‘untangle’ tense muscles that might be causing the patient pain.
It is said to increase mobility in parts of the body where recurring pain might be causing difficulty in movement. By directly targeting tense muscles, chronic pain will be relieved soon after those needles are pulled out. It is one of the most effective physical therapy treatments in terms of quick, yet lasting pain relief.
3. Light Therapy
This specific treatment releases photons on the surface area of the skin through low-level lasers. Some of its benefits include healthy hair growth and possible treatment of mental health problems. In terms of physical pain, though, it is mostly recommended for those who encounter neck and back pain, as well as joint disorders.
Low-level light heals tissues by allowing the healthy flow of oxygen back into damaged cells, letting them ‘breathe’ better and reducing pain. Because light is a powerful tool in the treatment of broken tissues, light therapy is sometimes even used to speed up the healing process of open wounds.
4. Manual Therapy
Unlike the treatments earlier discussed in this article, manual therapy uses no other gear or equipment but the therapist’s skilled hands. This is the way PT practitioners use their magic (although the process is still highly scientific) to increase mobility in problem points.
Sore muscles, stiff joints, and even slightly dislocated bones can actually be cured by manual therapy. It is not to be confused with traditional massages that are more focused on relaxation rather than treatment of underlying issues, but you’d find that most of the time, manual therapy can make you feel just as good.
Aside from directly working on parts of your body to deal with pain and discomfort, physical therapists can also prescribe a regimen composed of physical activities that will help you regain mobility and recover from any past injuries. Exercise therapy is also often recommended for patients who have already finished an in-clinic treatment plan, to facilitate long-term rehabilitation.
Possibly one of the oldest physical therapy treatments that are still employed today is lumbar traction, which is basically a procedure that will stretch your spine to ‘distract’ individual joints of the spine.
Since the time of Hippocrates, it is known to alleviate pain, so you can be sure that it is one of the treatments that will instantly make you feel better. However, some patients complain of muscle spasms and recurring pain in the treated area, so make sure you sign up with a qualified professional for a lumbar traction procedure.
Recurring and unrelenting pain affects everything you do and prevents you from living life to the fullest. But the physical treatment options presented in this article can help you regain full mobility and gain the ability to enjoy everything life has to offer.