Pain is no fun, whether in a knee, a neck, or elsewhere in the body. There are drugs that dull pain. But they don’t cure the problem. Plus, prescription drugs usually have side effects or are addictive. Physical therapy (PT) is a proven treatment that can relieve pain and in some instances, cure the problem. You may think of PT in terms of someone learning to walk after a hip replacement. Or improving their balance after a fall. In fact, PT is a great—and often overlooked—option for addressing pain.
Arthritis. For arthritis, PT focuses on loosening up joints, muscles, and tendons because continued physical activity reduces the pain. Suggestions might also be made for aides such as ergonomic chairs for back or neck pain. Or for back, knees, and hips, a soft cushion mat for standing in the kitchen. Your relative will receive a customized plan tailored to problems in their hands, back, knees, hips, or neck.
Chronic pain. Physical therapists are experts on the musculoskeletal system. If your loved one has chronic back pain, for instance, or other problems with muscle strength or stiffness, they’ll be given exercises to help. Sometimes the focus for pain relief is on flexibility. Other times it’s about building muscular strength.
Headaches. Persistent headaches can be notoriously difficult to cure. A physical therapist will work to define the source and triggers, a pinched nerve, tight jaw, muscle spasm, etc. With an informed plan, PT prevents and relieves headaches by improving posture, neck mobility, and muscle strength.
The body’s natural healing power. The exercises a physical therapist assigns are designed to support the body. They focus on muscle pairs that complement each other, stretching, and contracting. While there may be some soreness from doing unfamiliar moves, there are none of the side effects of medicine. In fact, PT may help your loved one avoid medication altogether. And there’s no potential addiction—except to feeling better! Full benefit does depend on diligence in doing the suggested exercises, however.
Check with your insurance. Medicare will pay for medically necessary PT services. Check with Medicare or your relative’s Medicare Advantage program to learn what is needed. You may be able to find private-pay PT that you can schedule yourself, like a personal trainer.
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