October is National Physical Therapy Month
Physical therapy is important for people at all stages of life. Regardless of age, many people struggle to move and function from a medical condition, illness, or injury.
For these reasons, most primary care doctors recommend physical therapy as the first course of action for chronic pain. What makes physical therapy so beneficial?
In honor of Physical Therapy month, here are 6 ways that physical therapy can improve your life:
1. Avoid Surgery and Medication
Many view surgery as an “easy” fix for injury and pain, but the high expense, possible side effects, and typically long recovery times suggest otherwise.
Physical therapy, on the other hand, is covered under most insurance plans and, due to its holistic nature, typically comes with no major complications.
The same goes for medication; in fact, the CDC recommends physical therapy as a better solution for managing chronic pain.
Recent research also shows that physical therapy is just as effective as surgery, especially for conditions including meniscal tears, degenerative disk disease, and osteoarthritis.
When surgery is unavoidable, prehab (pre-surgery physical therapy) and rehabilitation post-surgery are beneficial options. Through these programs, patients build muscle strength, improve their flexibility and recover from injury at a faster rate.
2. Improve Mobility and Movement
After a severe injury or major surgery, patients often take a while to get moving again.
Simple activities like walking, standing, eating or even writing can be a struggle – frustrating many who want to resume their normal levels of activity.
Physical therapists work with clients of all ages and abilities to restore mobility and motion.
Strengthening and stretching exercises make movement safer and easier for clients while improving overall physical health and boosting a better quality of life.
3. Cope with Diabetes
Diabetes is a serious issue in the United States, impacting the daily lives of 3.42 million people.
Caused by high blood glucose levels, the disease is the result of unhealthy diets and low levels of physical activity.
Many diabetics are vulnerable to stroke, nerve pain, liver damage, and foot problems. Physical therapy reduces the risk of these diabetes-related issues, making life more comfortable and enjoyable for those living with the condition.
While Type 1 is unpreventable, Type 2 diabetes can be avoided through conscious lifestyle choices, ones encouraged by physical therapy.
It fosters a space for safe exercise, helping patients to lower their blood sugar and participate in regular activity. So, not only can physical therapy help manage diabetes, but prevent it as well.
4. Improve Balance and Prevent Future Falls
The aftermath of a fall can be incredibly frustrating, impacting one’s ability to lead an independent and active lifestyle.
Older populations are particularly vulnerable to falls; one-third of people over the age of 65 fall at least once a year. Physical therapists develop exercises that increase energy and strength, making daily activities like carrying groceries and climbing stairs easier.
Through physical therapy, clients can participate in activities that improve coordination, while avoiding those that are dangerous. The result? Revitalized confidence to enjoy life’s simplest moments, without mobility stress or health complications.
5. Manage Age-Related Issues
As we grow older, we become more prone to developing arthritis and osteoporosis, two diseases that cause intense levels of pain and fatigue.
Linked to depression and anxiety, age-related issues make life more difficult: impacting work performance, personal relationships, and the things that are the most important to us.
However, physical therapy can help us combat our discomfort. PT slows down the disease progression while reducing pain – potentially eliminating it. Whether you need to mobilize your joints, restore your muscle function, build bone, or prevent spinal fractures, physical therapy can empower you to continue to live to your fullest potential.
6. Manage Cardiovascular and Lung Disease
Like arthritis and osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease risk increases over time. Even the healthiest of hearts changes with age, making older individuals more susceptible to heart attack and strokes.
With physical therapy, patients can strengthen their hearts and bodies after a heart attack.
For pulmonary problems, physical therapy offers strengthening, conditioning, and breathing exercises, helping patients clear fluid in the lungs.