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Physical Therapy and Pain Management - It's What We Do

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  • Written By: PVHMC - Admin
Physical Therapy and Pain Management - It's What We Do

Physical therapy is one of the most safe and effective alternatives to using medication to manage pain. Each of our physical therapists offer a variety of treatments both in our facilities and through personalized take-home treatment plans. Here are just a few of the ways we can help you better manage your pain and increase your day-to-day quality of life:

Manual Therapy — Best for: Any injury

This hands-on approach is what separates physical therapists from many other health practitioners. Manual therapeutic techniques such as soft tissue and joint mobilization, massage, tactile cues, and manual strengthening to reeducate the body into proper movement patterns are effective ways to eliminate restrictions and help patients move better.

Ice — Best for: Recent injuries resulting in pain, inflammation and swelling

Ice works by constricting blood vessels, thus minimizing bleeding, swelling, and inflammation. Professional and collegiate athletes are aware of the Game Ready, a device that combines circulating ice water with intermittent vasopneumatic compression.

Heat — Best for: Lingering injuries involving muscular spasms and or joint stiffness

Heat results in vasodilation, which can decrease spasm and increase mobility in soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Softer, relaxed, and more pliable tissues respond better to stretching. Heating methods include whirlpool, hydrocollator packs, Fluidotherapy (a specific unit for hands), or paraffin (hot wax).

Ultrasound — Best for: Connective tissue injuries

Ultrasound uses sound waves (at a million cycles per second, you cannot hear it!) to generate heat at varying tissue depths. This modulates the body’s natural healing response and also prepares tissues for exercise.

Iontophoresis — Best for: Painful, superficial areas

Iontophoresis delivers medication, such as anti-inflammatory steroids, through the skin to an inflamed tissue. The medication is applied to a patch and pushed through the skin by current from a small battery.

Traction — Best for: Nerve entrapment

Injury, or arthritic changes, can crowd or pinch nerve and other tissue in our spine. Traction is a form of decompression therapy that reduces spinal pressure. It can be performed manually or mechanically. Since it is non-invasive, it is often an effective option.

Electrical Stimulation — Best for: Relieving pain, relaxing spasm, restoring muscular strength

Electrical stimulation is a common treatment option used for multiple purposes. Depending on current parameters such as frequency, duration, and waveform, this modality can relax or contract a muscle or alter the pain response from an injured or irritated tissue. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and interferential current (IFC/H-wave) are common types of electrical stimulation.

Aquatic Therapy — Best for: Arthritic conditions, unstable exercisers, and chronic pain.

When land-based exercise is too much, aquatic therapy (or “water exercise”) may be a better choice. This form of exercise, in a warm, soothing environment, combines beneficial movements with the support and safety of the water. The buoyancy of the water reduces the forces on joints and muscles by more than 50 percent, while easing the fear of falling. With the guidance of an aquatic physical therapist, movements can once again be both helpful and fun!

Postural and Positioning Education — Best for: Any injury or painful condition

Postural awareness and proper positioning is critical in controlling the forces that can exacerbate a patient’s symptoms. The goal is to minimize stress across irritated tissues during our routine daily activities.

Exercise — Best for: Virtually any injury or illness

Although it may not be obvious, exercise, even simple movements, is now recognized as the “go-to” strategy to treat pain and prevent its reoccurrence. But these aren’t just any exercises — they’re targeted movements of stretching or strengthening, or both. Many injuries result from, or are aggravated further, by a sedentary or less active lifestyle. Hence the expression … movement is the best medicine!