The Tools and Techniques PT Practitioners Use to Address Pain
If you have either chronic or traumatic pain, physical therapy can provide both immediate and long-term relief. As a general rule, you’ll typically need a referral from your general practitioner to visit a physical therapist, and you’ll most likely have to schedule a series of treatments. But physical therapists have a number of tools that can help deal with your pain. These include:
- Strengthening exercises—In many instances, the source of pain is muscle weakness, which puts unnecessary stress on joints and other parts of the body. The physical therapist may have you use weights, exercise machines, resistance bands or other exercises (squats, lunges, sit-ups, etc.) to rebuild muscle health and strength.
- Stretching and range of motion exercises—After a warm-up to loosen muscles, you may use bands, machines or weights to stretch muscles and connective tissue, or you may do it the old-fashioned way, by simply touching your toes, twisting your torso or rolling your neck.
- Pain relief exercises—Your physical therapist will likely show you targeted exercises to address specific areas and causes of pain. That may involve addressing pain by improving flexibility, coordination or muscle strength.
Physical therapists also typically offer a range of treatment options, such as:
- Gentle massage—This can alleviate pain caused by tension, stress or lack of flexibility
- Heat and ice—Applying modest heat to stiff or tight muscles promotes relaxation, whereas ice reduces inflammation. Alternating both can help minimize pain.
- Nerve stimulation or ultrasound—These technologies help reduce pain by blocking the pain messages your body sends to your brain.
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