As we get older and go through some of life’s challenges, we often come to a time when things are not on track and our well-being is not what it could or should be. Sometimes it may seem that this moment snuck upon us. If we have a chronic condition, it can be subtle because it can get a bit worse with each passing week. If we’ve had an accident, a fall, or other unexpected events, we may experience everything changing in the proverbial blink of an eye.
If you have a medical condition, injury, or illness that limits your normal ability to move about or function, it’s important to get the care you need. Physical therapists specialize in these issues and can help you recover from what is going on and move to full wellness again. Primary care doctors commonly refer their patients to work with a physical therapist because this is often considered a safe and conservative approach to treatment.
What is a Physical Therapist
A physical therapist (PT) meets with the patient and provides a diagnosis and proposed treatment plan. They help them regain their freedom of movement and recover their ability to function well in the world. In addition to an undergraduate degree, PTs usually pursue a professional degree at the graduate level. This is typically a three-year program that leads to a Doctor of Physical Therapy diploma.
They may also choose to specialize and apply for a residency in that specific area of care. Those programs can span nine months to three years. From there they will take and pass a Board examination. PTs work in quite a variety of settings, ranging from private practices and hospitals to nursing homes, schools, and outpatient clinics.
Providing a Personalized Care Plan
When you visit with a physical therapist they will spend time with you and listen and work with you so they can fully understand what is going on. From there, they will develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs, current challenges and goals. With this plan as a guide, they can help you manage pain and improve your mobility.
Their efforts can help you recover from an injury or chronic condition, and also go a long way to preventing future problems too. Ideally, you’ll work as an active participant in the process. Your PT will also collaborate with other health professionals in the office or on the team to get you the best care possible.
Focus on Restoring Your Mobility
As you age, or if you’ve experienced a stroke or similar event, you may be having trouble walking, moving, or even standing up. Physical therapists can help by giving you strengthening and stretching exercises that can help you restore your natural abilities. They can also fit you with an assistive device such as a cane or crutches.
Because they create a custom treatment plan, they can focus on what’s most important to you first. They will help you maximize your ability to move, pain-free, so you can live a full life and also make a living in the world. By improving your mobility, the PT will also help reduce future instances of you falling and causing serious injury to yourself.
Experience Pain Reduction Without Using Opioids
A short while ago, the medical solution for patients with high levels of pain was to prescribe opioids. This turned out to be a flawed plan, unfortunately. The risk of severe addiction and even overdose death was high. When opioids were prescribed, they were found to cause depression and intense withdrawal symptoms. The CDC now encourages health care providers to offer their patients safer alternatives for pain management.
A top benefit of working with a PT is that they are very skilled in helping patients reduce their level of pain. In addition, they are often able to help lower the odds of pain returning at a future time. One of the ways PTs can help provide pain relief is through their understanding of how forces within your body are interrelated. For instance, when you have a pinched nerve, it can be due to muscle compression. By helping you reduce that strain, they can restore fluid movement which in turn helps lower pain.
Help Avoid the Need for Invasive Surgery
Wherever possible, surgery should be the last resort. The invasive nature of that option is very hard on the body, and can greatly extend the healing and recovery time. It also opens you up to possible complications that might be severe. There are certainly some conditions that do require surgery. In general, though, working with a PT can often help you heal from an injury and eliminate your pain, thus allowing you to forego surgery.
Surgery can also be very expensive, and can greatly lengthen and complicate your recovery effort and time. By following your PT’s personalized treatment plan, you can make steady progress and reach a point where you no longer need to consider invasive options. This will save the strain on your body, and save you money too.
If you find that your quality of life has deteriorated due to changes in your movement or mobility, consider working with a physical therapist who can help you restore your well-being. They’ll take the time to understand your condition and circumstances and develop a customized plan that will become your road map to good health.