ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. | Well Life ABQ — Physical therapy addresses pain concerns in various ways. From the most common conditions such as back and neck problems, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis to musculoskeletal disabilities, we’re going to go list down the therapies and options to manage your pain.
Addressing Musculoskeletal Pain
There are various treatments for your pain. It depends on the source of your pain:
- Medications: Examples of oral drugs are acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, and opioids. Topical pain relievers, “proliferative” injections like prolotherapy or platelet rich plasma (PRP), as well as injectable corticosteroids can be used for your pain.
- Therapy: This includes massage, physical therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic care, and osteopathic manipulation. For the psychological aspect, there’s psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Exercise: Stretching and strengthening exercises relaxes the muscles and provides support to your bones.
- Alternative therapy: Alternative therapies can be considered a sole or adjunct therapy for pain. Some of these are acupuncture, acupressure, biofeedback, and herbal supplements.
- Devices: Although there is limited evidence, braces, cervical collars, lumbar supports, and orthotics can be used.
- Surgery: It may be considered for you if you don’t respond to other less invasive treatments. Surgical procedures include arthroscopy, laminectomy, joint replacement, and cartilage or soft tissue repair.
Work-Related Pain | Pain Management
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 Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy
- 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 Physical Therapy 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:
- Creating and sustaining a therapeutic relationship
- Being participative, taking initiative, and hurdling challenges
- Appreciating advice, motivation, and feedback
- Gaining knowledge and new body awareness change behaviors
* Acceptance and management of pain are present throughout the four themes.
Physical Therapy 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain
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 Physical Therapy?
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…
Physical Therapy is effective as a first-line treatment for your chronic pain. It’s one of the many therapies for your neck and low back pains. To know more about your options, reach out to Well Life ABQ at 505-585-2345 for pain management. We’re a direct primary care provider accessibly located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.