October is National Physical Therapy Month – a time when we officially recognize those vital members of our professional healthcare family: physical therapists. PTs work hard every day to help their patients improve mobility and motion, often striving to avoid surgery and prescription drugs. Physical therapists take an active role in each patient's musculoskeletal recovery.
To honor them, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) commemorates National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM) each October. NPTM is designed to recognize the impact that physical therapists and physical therapist assistants make in restoring and improving motion in people's lives.
The organization also uses the month as an opportunity to raise the important issue of helping patients avoid the growing problem of opioid addiction; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges prescribers to reduce the use of opioids in favor of safer alternatives for treating chronic pain conditions. Physical therapy is one of the recommended non-opioid alternatives.
Health Tip: Have your PT take a picture or video of you doing exercises they’ve just taught you. That way, you’ll always be able to remember what to do – and that you really can do it.
Physical therapists are evidence-based health care professionals who offer cost-effective treatment that improves mobility and relieves pain, reduces the need for surgery and prescription drugs, and allows patients to participate in a recovery plan designed for their specific needs.They treat pain through movement and exercise, helping patients improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Physical therapists also can educate their patients about pain, which has been known to improve outcomes, according to the APTA.
PTs examine, evaluate, and treat patients who have conditions such as back pain, neck pain, burns, wounds, osteoporosis, developmental disabilities, carpal tunnel syndrome, and countless other conditions affecting an individual's ability to move freely and without pain.
Some PT-related facts to consider1:
Movement is essential to physical activity, which is necessary to prevent obesity, which is responsible for at least 18% of US adult deaths.
Mobility is crucial for physical independence, and studies suggest that walking alone can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, hip fracture, and knee arthritis, among other benefits.
Consistent movement is vital to maintaining a healthy balance system, which can help prevent costly falls.
While surgery and prescription drugs can be the best course of treatment for certain diagnoses, there is increasing evidence demonstrating that conservative treatments like physical therapy can be equally effective (and cheaper) for many conditions. For example: Low back pain is routinely over-treated despite abundant evidence that physical therapy is a cost-effective treatment that often avoids advanced imaging scans like MRIs that increase the cost of care and the likelihood for surgery and injections.
Physical therapy has proven as effective as surgery for meniscal tears and knee osteoarthritis, rotator cuff tears, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disk disease, among other conditions.
Health Tip: Take your pain medication about an hour before going to your physical therapy treatment, and drinks lots of water after. Expect to have soreness afterward, but that is likely actually a part of the healing process.
From our viewpoint, as an organization dedicated to improving the lives of people muscle, bone or joint conditions, PTs are a vital part of our interdisciplinary care team; we share a goal of creating healthier, satisfied patients. They collaborate with other healthcare professionals to develop treatment plans for patients using the latest research and proven approaches to ensure positive outcomes, paying careful attention to patient’s baseline levels and incremental improvement as they go through an exercise program. They make sure each patient progresses slowly and as comfortably as possible, making sure they don’t hurt themselves further – even if it’s part of their job to push you through a bit of pain to get the results a patient needs.
Please join us in thanking our PTs for all they do – their dedication to helping patients move better and feel better truly is an inspiration! To learn more or get involved in National Physical Therapy Month, follow MoveForwardPT on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest or visit http://www.moveforwardpt.com.
1 American Physical Therapy Association