Four ways physical therapists manage pain

(ProActive Sports Rehab offers a weekly column promoting health, fitness and physical therapy. Please be sure to check back each week for a new topic!)

As America combats a devastating opioid epidemic, safer, non-opioid treatments have never been of greater need.

Physical therapy is among the safe, effective alternatives recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in guidelines urging the avoidance of opioids for most pain treatment. Whereas opioids only mask the sensation of pain, physical therapists treat pain through movement.

Here’s how:

1. Exercise. A study following 20,000 people over 11 years found that those who exercised on a regular basis experienced less pain. And among those who exercised more than three times per week, chronic widespread pain was 28 percent less common. Physical therapists can prescribe exercise specific to your goals and needs.

2. Manual Therapy. Research supports a hands-on approach to treating pain. From carpal tunnel syndrome to low back pain, this type of care can effectively reduce your pain and improve your movement. Physical therapists may use manipulation, joint and soft tissue mobilizations, and other strategies in your care.

3. Education. A large study conducted with military personnel demonstrated that those with back pain who received a 45-minute educational session about pain were less likely to seek treatment than their peers who didn’t receive education about pain. Physical therapists will talk with you to make sure they understand your pain history, and help set realistic expectations about your treatment.

4. Teamwork. Recent studies have shown that developing a positive relationship with your physical therapist and being an active participant in your own recovery can impact your success. This is likely because physical therapists are able to directly work with you and assess how your pain responds to treatment.

— American Physical Therapy Association

ProActive Sports Rehab, with offices in Hamburg and West Seneca, offers one-on-one physical therapy and rehabilitation services. For more information, please visit http://proactivesportsrehab.com or call 674-9600 (West Seneca office) or 648-8700 (Hamburg office). You can also follow ProActive Sports Rehab on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProActiveSportsRehab for frequent updates.

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