How Physical Therapy Makes You Feel Better

Musculoskeletal problems are the top contributor to disability globally. These include disabilities due to muscle, joints, ligaments, and bone diseases or injuries. Back and neck pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis are some of the most common conditions. Moreover, pain can be a result of accidents, falls, or physical activities. 

Well Life ABQ offers many treatments to help ease your pain. Read more about non-narcotic pain management (please provide a link). In this blog, you’ll read more about physical therapy for musculoskeletal pain:

Table of Contents


Treatments for Musculoskeletal Pain

There are various treatments for your pain. It depends on the source of your pain:


Work-Related Musculoskeletal Pain

Studies have been conducted on musculoskeletal disorders among office employees. Working in the office puts you at risk of neck, spine, and low back problems. Some of the causes of the problems are prolonged sitting or leaning.  

Inappropriate ergonomic set-up or work station contributes to the problems, too. This happens when the height or measurement of your desk, chair, and equipment aren’t aligned to your body. Your body’s position and posture are affected as you adjust to your physical work environment. Your poor posture and keyboard-use puts the burden on your neck and shoulders.

Musculoskeletal disorders are usually accompanied by pain. Upper extremity musculoskeletal pain or UEMP is common in the workplace. A study reveals that office workers suffer UEMP and its associated disability. 

Other than the neck and shoulders, the lower back may also be affected. Office workers who tend to sit for prolonged periods may suffer from low back pain. Work factors contribute to an increased risk for low back disorders and pain. These are heavy physical work, lifting heavy loads, and improper body mechanics.

Similarities Between Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT)

  • Common Goal: PT and OT deals with non-drug treatment of your pain. Therapists provide education on pain management. They focus on developing patterns of movement to correct the cause of your pain or dysfunction. They aim to improve your quality of life and general well-being.
  • Methods: Therapists may conduct hands-on individual or group sessions. This depends on your condition and other people undergoing the therapy.
  • Tools: Therapists use assessment, movement analysis, equipment, and monitoring in their practice. 

Difference Between PT and OT 

  • A physical therapist works on decreasing your pain with a focus on gross motor skills. PT helps you restore your body’s movement, function, and range of motion. The therapy prevents your condition from becoming worse. 

Physiotherapy is a term used interchangeably with physical therapy. PT is more exercise-based, while physiotherapy is a more hands-on manual approach

  • An occupational therapist empowers you to independently do activities of daily living. OT assists you in regaining your ability to perform tasks effectively and safely. It focuses on mental and fine motor skills like self-care, housekeeping, or play. It uses a holistic approach according to the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. Strategies include “wellness promotion, rehabilitation, and habilitation.” 

Is PT effective for musculoskeletal pain?

One of the best options for musculoskeletal pain is PT. It gets to the source of the pain and treats it. PT sessions may include stretching, strengthening exercises and aerobic training.

Exercise proves to be beneficial for pain. You may exercise on your own. But a physical therapist creates a program for you. You learn the do’s and don’ts from the physical therapist to prevent further injury. A physical therapist also guides you in performing the exercises correctly. 

Researchers conducted a review on the effective treatment options for pain in primary care. It shows that there’s strong evidence on the effectiveness of exercise for musculoskeletal pain. It also improves the function and quality of life of people suffering from the pain. Strengthening exercises reduce the disability and intensity of low back pain of older adults, too.

Researchers performed a qualitative study about the physiotherapy of people with chronic musculoskeletal pain. The study shows that physiotherapy treatment in a primary care setting proved beneficial. It provided strategies and positive behavior changes for people with chronic pain.

The analysis of results describes the therapist-client relationship in four sub-themes:

  1. Creating and sustaining a therapeutic relationship
  2. Being participative, taking initiative, and hurdling challenges
  3. Appreciating advice, motivation, and feedback
  4. Gaining knowledge and new body awareness change behaviors

* Acceptance and management of pain are present throughout the four themes.


Is OT Effective for musculoskeletal pain? 

Chronic pain disrupts work-related performance. Occupational therapy is a potential intervention to address this problem. But occupational needs of people with chronic pain may not be sufficiently met. A 2011 study called for addressing gaps in the practice of occupational therapy. This is by generating evidence on the efficacy of occupational therapy for people with chronic pain. Through the years, the efficacy of occupational therapy has been apparent.

Chronic back pain intensity and functionality improved using an intensive multidisciplinary program within 3 weeks. The interventions used in the study composed of medication, injection techniques, exercise therapy, back education, ergo therapy, traction, massage, TENS, medical and aqua training, and relaxation.

A study used physical and occupational therapies on 144 participants with chronic low back pain. The study ran for 6 to 12 months. The results show that the short- and long-term functional restoration program proved effective. The participants formed new lifestyle habits, managed their pain, and returned to work.

A comprehensive interdisciplinary rehabilitation program significantly improved the function of people with chronic pain.  Other than medication, the program included cognitive behavior, physical, and occupational therapies.


PT for Neck Pain

Do you have chronic neck pain or recovering from a neck injury or surgery? PT may be recommended for you. PT reduces pain, returns function, and strengthens muscles. 

A study shows that cervical flexor muscle training reduced pain. The anxiety and depression levels of people with chronic neck pain were diminished. Therapeutic exercises for chronic nonspecific neck pain and specific PT program are also effective.

There are two kinds of PT for neck pain. These may involve one or both during the course of your PT sessions.

  1. Active PT: It aims to reduce your pain by relieving stress on your neck spine. This type of therapy includes stretching and exercises. These movements improve the flexibility of your neck and strengthen it.
  2. Passive PT: It aims to help reduce your pain and the swelling of your neck. This type of therapy won’t demand an effort from you. There are many ways to relieve your neck pain, passively. You may apply heat pads or cold packs on the neck. Massage works. For equipment-aided therapy, electrotherapy and ultrasound may be used.

PT for Low Back Pain

Exercise therapy emerged as the first-line treatment for chronic low back pain. Medication can be avoided as exercise relieves pain by activating the central inhibitory pathways

This benefit has been verified as researchers in a study looked into 150,000 insurance claims. The results of the study were published at the Health Services Research. It found out that people with low back pain were “better off seeing a physical therapist first.” For one, there’s an 89% lesser chance of being prescribed opioid drugs.

The recommended PT for your chronic low back pain may include biofeedback, exercise, manual therapy, massage, relaxation, yoga, interdisciplinary rehabilitation, or multidisciplinary treatments. Other passive PT and electrical methods may be ineffective. Thus, they’re not recommended for use.


Are you a candidate for PT?

You have to be checked first before starting PT for your neck or low back pain. There are conditions where you won’t be prescribed with PT as this may worsen your condition.

If you answer YES to any of these questions, you may not be allowed to undergo PT:

  • Do you have any serious underlying medical condition, such as neck infection or tumor?
  • Do you have a spine problem, such as spinal degenerative disease or a fractured spine?

These medical issues must be addressed first before you are allowed to continue with PT. You have to undergo a series of tests, too. These include X-ray, CT scan, and MRI to determine the cause of your pain. 

But there are other therapies for your pain…

PT is effective as a first-line treatment for your chronic pain. It’s one of the many treatments for your neck and low back pains. To know more about your options, visit us at the Well Life ABQ. We’re a direct primary care provider accessibly located in Albuquerque. You may call us at 505-585-2345 should you have questions about our pain management services.

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