Since its inception in 1992, National Physical Therapy Month, held each October, has provided an annual opportunity to recognize and celebrate the transformative power of physical therapy. But this year’s event carries a special importance.
America is in the midst of a devastating opioid epidemic, and physical therapy has been identified as part of the solution by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Surgeon General.
No one wants to live in pain. But no one should put their health at risk in an effort to be pain-free. Since 1999, Americans have increasingly been prescribed opioids—painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and methodone, and combination drugs like Percocet.
In some situations, dosed appropriately, prescription opioids are an appropriate part of medical treatment. However, opioid risks include depression, overdose, and addiction, plus withdrawal symptoms when stopping use. And people addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging health care providers to reduce the use of opioids in favor of safe alternatives like physical therapy. Whereas opioids only mask the sensation of pain, physical therapists treat pain through movement. Here’s how:
- Exercise. A study following 20,000 people over 11 years found that those who exercised on a regular basis experienced less pain. And among those who exercised more than three times per week, chronic widespread pain was 28% less common. Physical therapists can prescribe exercise specific to your goals and needs.
- Manual Therapy. Research supports a hands-on approach to treating pain. From carpal tunnel syndrome to low back pain, this type of care can effectively reduce your pain and improve your movement. Physical therapists may use joint and soft tissue mobilizations, or other manual therapy techniques in providing your care.
- Education. A large study conducted with military personnel demonstrated that those with back pain who received a 45-minute educational session about pain were less likely to seek treatment than their peers who didn’t receive education about pain. Physical therapists will talk with you to make sure they understand your pain history and help set realistic expectations about your treatment.
- Teamwork. Recent studies have shown that developing a positive relationship with your physical therapist and being an active participant in your own recovery can impact your success. This is likely because physical therapists are able to directly work with you and assess how your pain responds to treatment.
Johnson Memorial Health Services has a highly skilled physical therapy team that is available to see patients Monday thru Friday. Bonnie Will has over 18 years of experience as a Physical Therapist. She has undergraduate degrees in exercise science and athletic training. She is a NATA Certified Athletic Trainer and has worked as an athletic trainer and personal trainer. Bonnie completed her Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy in 1998 and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2007.
Jill Matthies has more than 17 years of experience working as a Physical Therapy Assistant. She has an associate’s degree from a PTA program. She enjoys working with all individuals of all ages. Jill has a great talent for working with individuals with neurological conditions such as strokes or the elderly.
If you have any questions about JMHS’s Physical Therapy Program or need to book an appointment, please call 320-312-2138.