Physical Therapy and Pain Management

May 1, 2023

Physical Therapy and Pain Management

The goal of physical therapy is to help you feel better, so you can enjoy more of your activities of daily living. Some patients need physical therapy (PT) to restore their range of motion after a surgery or accident, or to build up certain areas of their body, but another very important benefit of physical therapy is pain management.

Depending on the nature and extent of your pain, physical therapy can help to reduce or relieve your pain and promote healing. If your movement has become restricted due to pain, it may also be able to help restore muscle function. PT is often the first line of defense in pain management, before moving on to prescription medications or surgery.

During your initial visit, a physical therapist will ask questions about your level of pain, review your medical history, and evaluate your movement capabilities. The therapist will assess whether your pain is acute or chronic. Acute pain is most likely due to some type of tissue damage, while chronic pain might be linked to other factors such as stress, inflammation, or environmental factors. In some cases, you might also need an X-ray or other diagnostic test to look for any underlying causes of your pain.


How Can A Physical Therapist Help with Pain Management?


After evaluating all of these factors, the physical therapist will then develop an individualized plan to help manage your specific pain symptoms more effectively. Once the physical therapist knows how long you have been experiencing pain, how long it takes to go away, and what it feels like, there are different therapies which may be able to help:


  • Exercise: Some pain is actually caused by lack of exercise, a sedentary lifestyle, or being overweight. In these cases, the physical therapist might prescribe a regular exercise regimen that starts with basic movements and increases in intensity as your pain subsides.
  • Manual Physical Therapy: There are the movement based activities you perform. Your physical therapist might lead you through a series of stretching and range of motion exercises, or work on specific pain relief exercises. You may also participate in low-impact aerobic conditioning exercises which are designed to build strength without causing damage.
  • Passive Physical Therapy: These are activities which the physical therapist performs, where you do not do anything. The therapist might use muscle manipulation, or joint and soft tissue mobilizations, as well as other therapies. Further examples of passive physical therapy might include heat or ice packs, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, or cupping.


It is important that you take an active role in your pain management program, so education will also play a large role in how your physical therapist works with you. You will learn more about what you can do as a part of your daily routine to bring your pain under better control.

If you have further questions about pain management through physical therapy, or would like to set an appointment, please visit our website or contact our office directly.