What Is Integrative Medicine? Part 4: Physical Therapy
Physical Therapy Could Be the Answer to a Healthy Future
Physical therapy is another important component in an integrative medicine approach to health and well-being because your ability to move and function properly is essential in your future vitality and quality of life.
Physical therapy is provided by a physical therapist and helps people of all ages who have medical conditions, illnesses or injuries that limit their ability to move and function normally.
Physical therapists work closely and collaboratively with chiropractors, primary care doctors and surgeons to provide a comprehensive plan of care for a wide variety of conditions. Not only does a physical therapist help with back and neck, ankle, foot, shoulder and knee pain, but they can also help with post-surgical rehabilitation for knee and hip replacements, ACL reconstruction, shoulder and knee surgeries, foot and ankle surgeries and many other conditions.
What are some of the benefits of physical therapy?
- Avoid surgery.
If physical therapy helps you eliminate pain or heal from an injury, surgery may not be needed. And even if surgery is required, you may benefit from pre-surgery physical therapy. If you are going into a surgery stronger and in better shape, you will likely recover faster afterwards. Also, by avoiding surgery, health care costs are reduced.
- Reduce or eliminate pain.
Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for pain relief and pain management. Your physical therapist can prescribe appropriate exercise to reduce or eliminate pain while restoring and optimizing function. In addition to therapeutic exercise, physical therapists may use manual therapy, soft tissue mobilization, electrical muscle stimulation and other treatment modalities.
- Improve mobility.
Physical therapy can improve the ease of movement and reduce stiffness. Regardless of your age and fitness level, physical therapy can help.
- Recover from a stroke.
It is common to lose some degree of function and movement after stroke. Physical therapy can help strengthen weakened parts of the body and improve gait, balance and coordination during the various stages of stroke recovery. A physical therapist can help individuals safely increase and maintain their independence and activity level, and reduce the risk of further disease or injury.
- Recover from a sports injury.
Physical therapists understand how participating in different sports can increase your risk for specific types of injuries. They can design appropriate exercise programs for recovery, or injury prevention, to help you perform at your best.
- Manage age-related issues.
As people age, they may develop arthritis or osteoporosis, or need a joint replacement. Physical therapists can help patients manage arthritic or osteoporotic conditions conservatively. They can also help you prepare for, and recover from, joint replacement surgery.
- Manage concerns related to women’s health.
Women may have specific health concerns including issues related to pregnancy and postpartum care. Physical therapists can help with pain relief for muscle and joint problems during pregnancy, help restore core strength and stability after pregnancy, and can offer specialized management of other issues related to women’s health.
Can physical therapy replace pain-relieving drugs?
Oftentimes pain-relieving drugs are prescribed following an injury or surgery. Utilizing physical therapy during recovery will improve your ability to walk, bend and lift. Proper movement is the key to pain relief because it actually stimulates the nervous system in a positive way and reduces pain nerve signals to the brain. The faster you get moving, the quicker the drugs can be eliminated.
How can physical therapists make exercise fun again?
Many injuries are “self-inflicted” due to improper technique or poor body mechanics. Physical therapists can help to correct faulty movement patterns that may be causing strain, discomfort and injury. By using proper technique, and improving strength and flexibility, you can enjoy your favorite activity without fear of injury.
Is physical therapy painful?
The old saying “no pain no gain” does not apply to physical therapy. The idea is to work with your physical therapist to gradually increase intensity and effort. Physical therapists emphasize movement quality and neuromuscular control to establish proper function, range of motion and strength.
What is the length of a typical physical therapy session and how long should I do it?
A typical physical therapy session ranges from 45 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the severity of the condition being treated, the speed of recovery, level of conditioning and overall health status.
What can I learn from a physical therapist?
Physical therapists can teach you the proper form and body mechanics for all of your physical activities from daily activities to sports participation. Your physical therapist can also design an individualized home exercise program that details instructions for optimal performance. Continuing this specific program will allow you to continue the progress you made while in therapy and avoid future injuries.
Can physical therapy help me lose weight?
Physical therapists can help people who are obese to be more physically active and fit by teaching them to exercise in pain-free and fun ways. The right exercise is very important because it helps burn calories, reduce weight, preserve muscle tissue and protect your joints. Your physical therapist can design a specific treatment program to address your needs, including home exercises. Physical therapists are trained to create safe, effective physical activity programs for people of all ages and abilities.
What is the best exercise and best time to exercise?
There really is no “best” exercise or best time to exercise. Ideally, you should exercise 4-6 days per week and include aerobic and strengthening activities for 30 minutes at a minimum. Working with your physical therapist to find exercise that you enjoy is paramount. Physical therapists use current research findings to determine the most effective exercises for each patient and make modifications as needed to maximize effectiveness and enjoyment.
This is part-four of the four-part series on “What Is Integrative Medicine?” Many Americans have never heard of integrative medicine, but this holistic movement has left its imprint on many of the nation’s hospitals, universities, and medical schools. Mt. Lookout Chiropractic and Sports Injury Center is one of the leaders in the Midwest. If you would like any more information go online to mtlookoutchiro.com or call 513-321-8484.