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The Facts on Physical Therapy

Jan 25, 2008
Physical therapy is most often prescribed for patients with permanent disabilities, recovering from a major injury or accident, or suffering from conditions such as arthritis or lower back pain. Some diseases or conditions can impair patients to a degree that a physical therapist must teach the patient to function with the limitations of the condition. Under the guidance of a therapist, patients can regain a major share of their mobility, achieve flexibility, and acquire balance and coordination. At its very core, physical therapy can help significant improve the overall fitness and health of a patient.

As with any treatment, the effectiveness of physical therapy requires the full participation and adherence to the physical therapy treatment. Often, patients become proficient in their exercise regimen and make the assumption their recovery can be accomplished without the support and guidance of their physical therapist. Such decisions can actually cause more damage to the existing injuries. True physical therapy requires time and patience to achieve the best results.

Monitoring a patient's progress, trained therapists can correct any errors in posturing or practice by the patient. Therapists will often make adjustments to the exercise program as the patient improves in health and strength. Complete recovery is achieved through diligence, compliance, and dedication, which requires continued interactive between the patient and therapist.

During treatment, a physical therapist may use a combination of passive and active methods to bring about pain relief. These include heat/ice packs, ultrasound, low-impact aerobic conditioning, and stretching, to name a few. TENS therapy is also an effective tool to manage pain. The small, battery-operated device delivers low-voltage electrical currents through the skin via electrodes placed near the source of pain. The electricity from the electrodes stimulates nerves in the affected area, sending signals to the brain that "scramble" normal pain perception.
One of the most common ailments for those seeking physical therapy is back pain. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any give time. It is one of the most common reasons for missed work and is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor's office.

A series of complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles, the back can easily experience a sprain or ruptured disk. Sometimes the simplest of movements, such as bending over to pick a pencil up off of the floor, can have painful results. Poor posture, obesity, and stress can also cause or complicate back pain.

While there is no single type of physical therapy which can alleviate chronic back pain, it can offer a world of benefits. It can also prevent further problems before they arise. Overall, physical therapy can increase function and improve the quality of life for someone suffering from back pain.

Rather than promising an instant "cure all," physical therapy teacher patients how to manage their own pain. Patients learn to cope with the pain while minimizing the impact of the pain in their lives. The best results for physical therapy come as a result of patients who can take control of their condition and not expect a miracle cure.

Increasing function and improving quality of life through movement is the heart of PT, according to Dr. Scott Fisherman, Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of California, Davis. After gaining a good perspective on a patient's overall health, attitude, and daily routine, the therapist can judge a patient's progress and control over his or her own pain.

Together, the patient and therapist will map out a program of activities designed to address each of the impairments caused by the pain. The best sign of success of physical therapy is a noticeable improvement in a patient's daily activities and the ability to reclaim a normal routine.
About the Author
Acheaway is now available for home use to soothe the aches and pains associated with arthritis, psoriasis, tired joints and sore muscles from an active lifestyle. Thousands have benefited from the pain relieving power of these safe, natural, non-prescription treatments.
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