Physical therapy is part of the rehabilitation programs that help patients improve their fitness levels and restore the functional ability for performing normal routine activities. It is often recommended in recovery after a surgery. Physical therapy includes different forms of exercises such as stretching, weight lifting, core exercises and walking that increase the flexibility and strength of the affected region and also help in relieving pain and swelling.
Physical therapy specialists, also referred to as physical therapists, examine the patient and prepare individualized treatment plans, based on the health condition of the patient. A physical therapist is trained in different specialties such as orthopaedics, neurology, cardiology, respiratory medicine, sports medicine, women’s health and geriatrics. A physical therapist may employ manual therapy, patient education, and additional techniques such as cold therapy, heat therapy, therapeutic exercises, massage, aquatic therapy, ultrasound and electrical stimulation.
Physical therapists may recommend additional devices such as prosthetics (artificial limbs), braces or supports, and other equipment to enhance your performance of daily activities. The doctor may recommend physical therapy along with the other conventional treatments in the following conditions:
- Back pain
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Spinal stenosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
- Soft tissues disorders such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, meniscus tear, and plantar fasciitis
Role of Psychological assessment and Psychotherapy
A biopsychosocial perspective of pain focuses on viewing chronic pain as an illness rather than disease, thus recognizing that it is a subjective experience and that treatment approaches are aimed at the management, rather than the cure of chronic pain. The chronic pain patients should therefore have a Psychological assessment through questionnaires, behavioural observations, interviews so that the comorbid psychiatric and behavioural conditions that may interfere with pain coping and overall adjustment can be identified and treated.
Current psychological approaches to the management of chronic pain include interventions that aim to achieve increased self-management, behavioural change, and cognitive change rather than directly eliminate the locus of pain. Benefits of including psychological treatments in multidisciplinary approaches to the management of chronic pain include, but are not limited to, increased self-management of pain, improved pain-coping resources, reduced pain-related disability, and reduced emotional distress – improvements that are effected via a variety of effective self-regulatory, behavioural, and cognitive techniques. Through implementation of these changes, psychologists can effectively help patients feel more in command of their pain control and enable them to live as normal a life as possible despite pain. Moreover, the skills learned through psychological interventions empower and enable patients to become active participants in the management of their illness and instil valuable skills that patients can employ throughout their lives.