When most people think of physical therapy, they picture an athlete rehabilitating from a knee surgery, a stroke patient learning to walk again, or rehabilitation following a car accident. While physical therapists treat patients following injuries and accidents—with much success—there are plenty of other conditions that physical therapy can help patients with!
Do you have chronic pain and think that physical therapy cannot help you as you have dealt with your pain for years? Think again! Physical therapists routinely and successfully help chronic pain patients to not only reduce pain but improve function and quality of life. For example, people with chronic back pain often have poor hip flexibility and a weak core. By working with a physical therapist to improve those deficits through an exercise program, patients may be able to get their life back without being chained to their chronic back pain.
Another chronic pain culprit is neck pain. Postural related neck pain is a common complaint that is a very easy fix. Sitting at a computer all day, bent over an iPhone, or driving between job sites can all contribute to neck pain. These activities frequently lead to what is known as “upper crossed syndrome” where certain muscle groups get very tight, some muscles get stretched out and weak, the head moves forward out of its natural position, and neck pain is the end result. Working with a physical therapist to implement appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises can help to address deficits that contribute to a patient’s chronic neck pain.
Headaches, Migraines, and TMJ
Traditionally, medication has been the first weapon of choice when trying to combat migraines and headaches. Migraines can often be debilitating taking a patient out of work and regular activities due to the symptoms. Few people are aware that physical therapists can help with certain types of headaches and migraines.
Trigger point dry needling is the use of acupuncture needles to relax trigger points in muscles and “calm down” nerve distributions in the body. Pain comes from nerves. Many physical therapists can help alleviate symptoms of migraines through a dry needling protocol. Consult with your physician to see if you would be a candidate for dry needling.
TMJ or TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) is another condition that very few people realize physical therapists treat. After all, it is a joint and that is our specialty! Most people head straight for the dentist; however, physical therapy is a great option for addressing your TMJ. Through specialized mobilizations, massage, manual techniques, and exercise, physical therapists may be able to help you get rid of that annoying click and kiss your jaw pain goodbye.
Generalized Weakness, De-conditioning, and Overuse
While most of the time, de-conditioning and generalized weakness are problems associated with the elderly population. Sickness and drops in activity level coupled with the aging process lead to decreases in functional mobility which physical therapy can address. However, it can happen to any age group. If a person experiences a significant bout of illness or lengthy hospitalization, their muscles can become extremely weak impacting not only their activities of daily living, but inhibit their return to work or recreational activities. Physical therapy can help retrain their muscles and improve endurance at a safe and effective rate to allow individuals to improve independence and function and live life to the fullest.
Find a Clinic and Start Feeling Better
Have you had a nagging pain for “as long as you can remember?” Can’t recall the exact time your shoulder started hurting? Do you have an aging parent who has progressively gotten weaker and more physically dependent over time? Just because your condition did not result from a specific injury or accident or you have been dealing with it chronically does not mean that physical therapy cannot help you. Give Bourassa & Associates a call today to set up an appointment with one of our university trained therapists who can help you address your symptoms.