Everyone should know about the benefits of Physical Therapy!

“The month of September has been designated “Pain Awareness Month” since 2001. It is a time when several organizations work to raise public awareness about chronic pain and the different pain management techniques available. September 8th also happens to be “World PT Day” where physical therapists all over the world try to reach out and let the public know how physical therapy services can improve their overall quality of life. One of the largest issues the physical therapists treat on a daily basis is pain. It is a great coincidence that World PT Day occurs during Pain Awareness Month.

For several decades opioid pain medication has been prescribed and the first choice in an attempt to help reduce pain both acute and chronic. However, medication only masks the pain and does not help to address the cause. The severity of the side effects of pain medications and the potential for addiction has also become painfully apparent in the last few years. As the Centers for Disease Control and the American Medical Association work towards reducing the use of pain medication, physical therapy has become one of the leading treatments for chronic pain.

Physical therapy has a focus to address the cause of a person’s pain and address them as a whole while working to improve their overall quality of life not just mask their pain. However, there is a large portion of the public that does not understand the role physical therapy plays in helping to treat and reduce chronic pain.

When you talk to the public, they do not realize the variety of conditions that physical therapists are able to treat. While there are many great physicians that understand and support the use of physical therapy, there are many that are not aware of the positive impact it can have on their patients. This can cause a patient to be delayed in receiving treatment for their condition. Physical therapy treatment tends to have high patient satisfaction outcomes while also having a low cost on the health care system compared to traditional imaging or surgery.

The largest hurdle to patients is that physical therapists are not viewed as frontline providers in the United States Healthcare system. While some states have direct access, often a patient must receive a prescription from their physician before starting physical therapy treatment. In several other countries like the United Kingdom and Australia, people are able to utilize physical therapy as a frontline provider.

Currently, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is working on improving patient access and overall awareness about the benefits of physical therapy treatment. Many insurances now do allow you to see a physical therapist for a short period of time and will pay for treatment but patients do not know that is an option. Many physical therapy offices also have a cash option for those people without health insurance. Treatment is always individualized for each patient and their current condition.

If you or a loved one has an injury or chronic pain contact a physical therapist and talk to them about if treatment could be right for you.

Content provided by Evan Reinert, PT, DPT