Physical Therapy

Pain affects more people than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined, and more than 100 million suffer from chronic pain in America, according to the Institute of Medicine's 2011 report: Relieving Pain in America, A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research [IOM 2011]. What then can be done for the patient with chronic pain?

At minimum, a proposed program of treatment categories should include the following framework:

  1. Medical management
  2. Evidence- or consensus-based interventional/procedural therapies
  3. Ongoing behavioral/psychological/psychiatric therapy
  4. Evidence-based complementary and integrative medicine (CIM - e.g., yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture, manipulation).
At Alpine Pain and Rehab Solutions of Utah, our services cover all of these categories, but in this section we will discuss the last item on the list.

Almost all patients who have chronic pain typically are unable to live a healthy lifestyle and become sedentary and deconditioned from not just a physical sense, but a mental sense as well. Physical therapy, directed specifically to the type of chronic pain that a patient suffers, can be very beneficial in improving muscle tone and increasing activity and as a result, giving the patient more mobility and improved function overall. The progression of the disease generally slows down with the increased movement of joints and activities of the musculoskeletal system, improving blood flow and nerve tone as well. But, it must be remembered that physical therapy is just one part of an integrated approach to treating ones pain. Chronic pain is a biopsychosocial condition that requires other modalities and treatments discussed elsewhere on this website. It seems contrary to the way a chronic person feels to suggest physical therapy or even exercise in any of its forms. When you are in pain, you generally want to just stop doing anything, hoping that the pain goes away. The problem is that not only will the pain remain, but could get even worse do to the deconditioning of the body as mentioned previously.

Different forms or types or types of physical therapy need to be employed with chronic pain and associated weakness of the muscles and soreness of the joints, but it can be done and over time there is improvement in an overall feeling of wellness. Within physical therapy there are some of these forms that work very well for most conditions that have led to the diagnosis of chronic pain. These would be:
  1. Deep tissue massage (the kind that may hurt a little at first, and requires a certified massage therapist)
  2. Yoga (mostly the stretching type)
  3. Tai chi (this Asian form of stretching has been around, like some of its counterparts, for ages and helps tone muscles and improve circulation of the blood and healing properties found naturally in our bodies).
The only downfall of physical therapy is getting insurance companies to cover it. Because of that lack of coverage, most pain care providers are left with injections and medical management.

At Alpine Pain and Rehab Solutions of Utah, we will offer physical therapy treatment with our physical therapy partners and work with our patients to make sure that they have opportunities to incorporate this type of treatment into the management of their pain. We also intend to be able to offer physical therapy in our office in the future.