Pain And Physical Therapy
What is “physical therapy”?
Physical therapy is working with the body to create an increase in range of motion, to create more strength and stability, and also to use modalities like ultrasound or electrical stimulation that’ll actually reduce pain.
In what ways is physical therapy used to manage chronic pain?
Physical therapy is excellent in managing chronic pain, because it helps strengthen areas that are weak. A lot of chronic pain is really just from what I’ll call a disuse atrophy. As people get older, they don’t exercise as much. If they’re injured, they don’t exercise as much. So what happens is the muscles become weaker, the connections to the joint become weaker, and with the instability comes pain.
What is “active” physical therapy?
Active physical therapy is actually having the patient move their own body around. This can be by way of things like a rocker board, which is a round board that’s unstable so a person can stand on that and then can try to gain their balance. That in itself will help strengthen the muscles around the ankles and strengthen up the ligaments. There are also things like Medx therapy, which is a big frame machine which a person sits in. It locks out the pelvis so that when the person flexes and extends, their back muscles will increase in strength and mobility. There are also different ranging motions to increase strength and different strengths in the exercise. Pilates is an example of an active form of physical therapy.
What is “passive” physical therapy?
Passive physical therapy is a therapy where the person doesn’t really have to do anything. They’re pretty much immobile for the most part. Passive physical therapy may be something like ultrasound, which is a deep heat. It may be electrical stimulation, which is often through pads that are placed in an area of inflammation. Passive physical therapy may be something like iontophoresis or phonophoresis, which is when substances are placed on the skin and, electrically or through sound waves, driven deep into the skin to reduce inflammation and pain by use of the device.