The thalamus, an egg-shaped structure nestled in the center of the brain, receives sensory information of every kind except for smell—and a lot of that info comes in like 911 calls, because the thalamus is a central dispatch center for pain—processing, feeling, and reacting to it.
But pain routed through the thalamus comes from all over the body, and there’s a uniquely effective way to manage, reduce, or even eliminate it to improve quality of life: pain management physical therapy. Much more than just exercising and stretching, physical therapy is a science-driven approach to evaluating pain and using various physical techniques to treat and ease it. And it’s not opioids.
What pain management physical therapy is, in fact, is a safe, effective, and lasting alternative to those addictive painkillers—and to surgery, too. And, as such, pain management physical therapy is growing in popularity. In fact, survey data from 2011 to 2019 show “the prevalence of outpatient nonpharmacologic pain treatments surpassed prescription opioid use for chronic...pain,” according to a November 7, 2022, article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
So, if you’re looking for a safe and effective way to feel better—one that empowers you to participate in and continue your own therapy, for as long as you want or need, then give us a call. We’ll work with you to give your thalamus a break from all those 911 calls.
What is pain management physical therapy?
Pain isn’t all bad. In fact, it serves a purpose: Pain lets us know we’ve injured ourselves.
But pain can overstay its welcome, and often does, hanging around and causing pointless misery long after we’ve gotten the memo from our body about being hurt.
Pain management physical therapy is a specialized approach that focuses on reducing pain and enhancing function not with surgery or medicine—the latter of which only masks symptoms--but with physical methods that address the root cause of pain. This might involve strengthening exercises, flexibility routines, manual therapy, and education on how to manage your condition.
Here are just a few effective, non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical pain-relief measures:
- Heat and cold: A heating pad or ice pack remains the standard for easing certain kinds of pain.
- Exercise: Activities such as walking or riding a bike can help with conditions such as arthritis. Exercise addresses the importance of flexibility and helps restore it.
- Therapeutic massage and myofascial release: Myofascial tissues are the tough coverings that wrap, connect, and support muscles. Stiff areas in myofascial tissue are stiff points, also called trigger points, that limit movement and can cause pain whose source is hard to pinpoint. Manually applied light pressure and massage loosens these areas, easing pain and facilitating movement.
- Physical therapy: We know and use many methods for easing pain, including exercises designed to improve your strength and mobility.
Tony is a patient with chronic pain. We are the sixth PT clinic to which he has been referred.
“I do not know what to do I am in such terrible pain,” Tony said when he came to see us. “I cannot sleep, I cannot work, and I cannot sit or stand for more than five minutes. How are you going to be able to help me?”
After we thoroughly evaluated Tony and discussed with him treatments he had received from other PTs, we decided with him to work on his myofascial system to improve the sliding and gliding of tissues and peripheral nerves. This is known as myofascial release.
Tony was anxious and agitated, which contributed to the tightness of his myofascial system. To relax him, we had him perform diaphragmatic breathing exercises to reduce the muscular tension and improve ribcage mobility.
With gentle myofascial work, peripheral nerve-gliding techniques, and breathing techniques, we were able to reduce Tony’s pain and gradually add to the movement of his trunk and extremities.
Today, Tony is enjoying golfing, remodeling his home, and traveling with his wife.
Benefits of PT in pain management
Physical therapy is beneficial because it’s
- targeted to pinpoint the source of a patient’s pain and treat it accordingly;
- holistic in that patients’ lifestyles, activities, and overall health inform their treatment plans;
- long-term, giving patients tools and techniques to manage their own pain and prevent re-injury; and
- non-invasive, meaning it doesn’t require surgery or medicine.
Incorporating PT into your life
Incorporating physical therapy into your life for pain management doesn't have to be complicated. It starts with a consultation with a qualified physical therapist who will assess your condition and create a tailored treatment plan.
If you're ready to take control of your pain and improve your quality of life, Advanced Care Physical Therapy is here to help. Our team of skilled physical therapists specializes in pain management and is dedicated to providing personalized, effective treatment plans.
Don't let pain control your life any longer. Contact Advanced Care Physical Therapy today to start your journey to a pain-free life. Like Emily, you can find relief and get back to doing what you love. Give us a call, at 716-282-2888.