Why Physical Therapy Has Become an Essential Part ofPrimary Care
Physical therapy is widely used in preventative medicine and for rehabilitation after injuries and medical treatment. It can be helpful in a whole range of cases, from sports medicine to pain relief. Especially for the treatment of chronic pain in trouble areas like the back, knees, hips, neck and shoulders, it can be highly effective. Used in conjunction with other treatments, physical therapy has become an integral part of primary care.
How does physical therapy work?
Physical therapists are sometimes known as physiotherapists and treat bodily impairments to promote mobility and improve the quality of life. Physical therapy has evolved through the use of biomechanics or kinesiology. This uses body movements and mechanical force to heal the body and to address persistent and chronic pain issues. Different types of physical therapy include manual therapy, exercise, electrotherapy and others.
With the growing evidence of the success of physical therapy in primary care and rehabilitation, there is an increasing demand for trained and qualified practitioners. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a growth rate of 36% for the profession of physical therapy by 2022.
Physical therapy for chronic pain
Physical therapy is a highly effective treatment for chronic pain such as back and knee pain. These are very common, and there are no effective drugs or surgical interventions that work in all cases. The most common type of knee ligament problem affects the ACL, with between 100,000 and 200,000 ruptures each year. This makes knee pain the second most common type of chronic pain in the U.S., and one that can be treated using physical therapy.
Other problem areas like the neck, hips and shoulders also benefit from physical therapy. Musculoskeletal injuries of all kinds are very common. In the U.S., it is estimated that about half of all adults develop such injuries each year. The pain from these injuries lasts at least three months. About 7% of all Americans suffer from hip pain which can also be attributed to osteoarthritis. Over 30 million adults are affected by osteoarthritis, which affects joints at the knees, hands and shoulders as well.
Lower back pain and osteoarthritis
Lower back pain affects as many as 31 million Americans at any given point of time. Not only is this type of chronic pain very widespread, there are no known cures. Prescription medications and surgery can be costly, time consuming, addictive and eventually ineffective.
Lower back pain can be managed and reduced through physical therapy, used in conjunction with other treatments. Physical therapy is not only more effective, it’s also less costly than other treatments. One study found that treatment costs for lower back pain were $2,736.23 lower when they incorporated early physical therapy.
Physical therapy can be a highly effective treatment for chronic pain in problem areas like knees, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. It is also widely used in sports medicine both for preventative care and for rehabilitation from injuries. It’s also a less costly alternative. For both reasons, it has become an important part of the range of medical options.