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Physical Therapy: Alleviating Pain or Empowering For Self-Care?

I became a Physical Therapist so that I could help patients function better; so they could get back to all of the activities they were missing out on. But what exactly does “help” mean? Does it mean relieving pain? Does it mean improving function- improving your ability to exercise, work, or sleep? Or does it mean something else all together?

The first step is doing what we can to help patients feel better. However, if we don’t teach patients to feel better on their own, they will end up back in our clinic with the same problem. Therefore, the key to get back to your life is good individualized education. Education is empowerment. Giving the tools to manage symptoms is the key to successfully restoring function.

Many patients will try to understand their pain by researching all of the rich data available on the internet. While this is often a great place to start, the plethora of conflicting information can leave you unsure of where to go.

General advice you find on the internet is just that: general. Our bodies are these complicated amazing machines that a google search does not have the capability to individualize. You might be able to fix your dishwasher with a you tube video, but you will more often fail with this approach when it comes to your body.

It is easy to get frustrated when people tell you to just start getting active and you should feel better. If you could do that, you probably would have already done that.

Physical Therapists have extensive background and experience in understanding and explaining pain. An experienced therapist will understand why you can’t simply become active again, and help you dissect your individual situation so you can be successful.

Physical Therapists can make you feel better. Physical Therapists can get you back to function. Most importantly, Physical Therapists will teach you to take care of your body so you can manage and take care of your own pain.

Never underestimate the power of your body to heal, given the right environment. When you try to get better on your own and fail, the cause is more often a lack of knowledge versus a lack of ability.

As a clinician, my favorite day is when a patient comes to me and says “I think I know how to deal with this on my own. I don’t need therapy anymore”

Don’t give up on your body if you can’t figure it out. Invest in your life through education. Reach out to your Physical Therapist to understand; so you can heal and get back to life.


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