Surprising Reasons People Go To Physical Therapy
- Chronic Headaches
- Premature Birth
Most people associate physical therapy with athletic injuries or rehabilitation after surgery, but there are other lesser-known but still useful reasons for visiting a physical therapist. Doctors are prescribing this course of treatment to more patients than ever before. Forbes even reported that, starting in 2016, physical therapist positions will be difficult to fill due to the increased number of patient referrals. This is partially due to the baby boomer generation getting older and having more injuries but also related to the multiple new conditions therapists can treat including the following.
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1. Chronic Headaches
No matter how long a patient has been suffering with headaches nor how severe they are, physical therapy might provide complete relief. Many headaches are tension or musculoskeletal in origin, caused by disk problems in the cervical spine, poor posture, neck stiffness, or tight upper back muscles. These conditions can all be treated by stretching, exercises, and other modalities like soft tissue mobilization, heat or ice, and application of ultrasound. Often a patient will only need a couple sessions to have complete headache relief and then be discharged with a home exercise program.
This is another one of the conditions people do not realize physical therapy can help. While a physical therapist does not deal with insulin and blood sugar levels directly, one of the leading causes of this disease is a sedentary lifestyle. Physical therapy helps individuals address the reasons behind their limited activity. Plus, peripheral neuropathy and poor circulation are two common side effects, both of which can lead to increased wounds as well as slow healing. Physical therapists are trained to treat these problems as well as monitor the healing process.
3. Premature Birth
Physical therapy services can significantly improve the outcome of a premature birth. Since the baby usually continues its development inside the womb for a few more weeks to months, he or she often lacks strength and needs guidance on movements. These, along with helping to position the baby for optimal breathing, are part of the physical therapist’s role. Parents learn techniques for feeding and playing to help their child meet developmental milestones.
Bladder leakage is an issue that most often affects women as they age. At its most severe, incontinence requires surgery, but before this measure, an increasing number of urologists are trying a course of physical therapy. Sometimes, a regular exercise program that strengthens the core and other pelvic floor muscles completely takes care of the problem. After an evaluation, a physical therapist can design an individual regimen depending on the patient’s specific needs.
There are many different types of dizziness, and one of the most common is vertigo due to inner ear problems. This is called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, BPPV, and is another disease most people do not realize can be treated with physical therapy. After a positive Dix-Hallpike test, a simple maneuver often resolves a patient’s vertigo permanently. There are other dizziness and balance issues that also can be treated successfully with physical therapy.
Through noninvasive methods, physical therapists save patients time and money by solving medical problems without the need for surgery. These conservative and preventative measures also reduce the need for addictive pain medications and increase overall wellness in patients with both musculoskeletal issues as well as other less common conditions that are treated in physical therapy.