In 1981, the American Physical Therapy Association established National Physical Therapy Month to raise awareness of how their services can help people reduce pain, improve mobility, and live healthier lives. Each year, APTA chooses a theme so they can focus their campaign on an important health related issue. For 2018, the theme is #ChoosePT.
This theme was chosen in response to the ongoing opioid epidemic across the US. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, over 130 Americans died of opioid-related overdoses every day from 2016 to 2017. Now APTA is doing their part by promoting physical therapy as a safe and healthy form of pain management.
The Costs of Pain
The American Academy of Pain Medicine reports that 100 million Americans live with some form of chronic pain. People in pain may experience difficulty in all areas of their lives, finding it difficult to work, enjoy hobbies, or even sleep. Pain is an expensive problem in the US, costing an estimated $61.2 billion every year due to lost productivity.
How Physical Therapy Can Help
The most common pain management techniques include medicine (both over the counter and prescribed), physical therapy, and a combination of the two. Reasons to #ChoosePT include:
- A physical therapist may be able to treat the source of your pain, rather than just managing symptoms.
- It’s an effective way to increase flexibility and muscle strength.
- Exercise can improve your health overall in addition to helping with symptoms.
- It does not carry the risk of side effects or addiction.
- Exercise releases endorphins, which can boost your mood and help you relax.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a painful condition, this is an option worth exploring.
What Does Physical Therapy Involve?
There are a variety of stretches and exercises that therapists use to treat their patients. Your therapist’s recommendations will depend on the details of your health condition, preferences, and abilities. Generally, physical therapists will begin with an assessment, then develop an individualized plan for each of their patients.
In addition to exercise, some therapists will recommend a variety of techniques that can help with symptom management. These may include acupuncture, yoga, massage, or meditation. Pain is a terrible problem, but no one has to suffer it in silence. Help is available.
Lizzie DeLacy is an experienced trainer and yoga instructor. Her proprietary fitness regime emphasizes physical, emotional, and spiritual health.