After visiting a doctor and getting a prescription for physical therapy, you may see "physical therapy" as a scary word. However, there are many benefits of physical therapy. We see these benefits every day at F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic in Kansas City.
Why would my doctor prescribe physical therapy in Kansas City?
Being told you “need” physical therapy does not necessarily mean you have a serious affliction. Physical therapists are movement experts, and experts in the overall human body.
There are many benefits of physical therapy outside of helping you recover from surgery or a serious injury. In general, physical therapists can help you move better day in and day out. This means your little aches and pains don’t become something more egregious and warrant a visit to your primary care doctor or orthopedist.
Recently, the state of Kansas has changed to what is called a direct-access state. This means you don’t even need an initial visit to, or referral from, your primary doctor. It’s easy; just give us a call and set up an evaluation with one of our highly trained therapists.
In the world of healthcare, physical therapists are movement experts and should be the go-to practitioner when treating musculoskeletal pain.
Benefits of physical therapy range from reducing pain to improving overall performance for an athletic event. But that’s not where the benefits stop.
At F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic, we treat patients with any musculoskeletal concern to allow them to be better than before—whatever that may look like. In that way, physical therapy is more than a prescription from a doctor; it can be a way of life for making you move better and keep you pain free.
All of our physical therapists are trained in a variety of different treatments. We use evidenced-based practice to make sure you are getting the best care available in Kansas City.
Overall, there are a variety of benefits of physical therapy, some you may not have thought of. Here we discuss a few, but certainly not all, of the benefits of physical therapy.
Physical therapy reduces pain
One of the main benefits of physical therapy is reducing pain. By reducing pain, we can help you improve daily activities like walking, going up and down stairs, and completing general work requirements.
The presence of pain is the main reason people seek out a physical therapist in the first place.
At F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic, our physical therapists use evidence-based manual therapy techniques to help our patients with pain relief and mobility. A few of these techniques include instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM), active release techniques (ART), dry needling, and joint mobilizations to help improve the quality of the tissue being treated and decrease the nociceptive (painful) signal that is being processed by the brain.
Manual therapy and soft tissue work can desensitize the problem and act as a neurologic reset for the joint and muscles. These manual techniques often provide immediate or quick relief of pain. That means you'll leave your appointment feeling better than when you walked in.
Fixing the Underlying Problem
If we don’t fix the underlying problem, then we have simply masked the symptoms. We follow all of our soft tissue work with rehabilitative exercises that complement the work we do with our hands to provide long-lasting relief and long-term tissue change.
The combination of soft tissue work and corrective exercises one-on-one with our physical therapists in Kansas City allows the tissue—and the whole body—to adapt to the loads you impose on it.
It takes a minimum of 4 weeks to make a lasting neurological change within the body. So sticking to a plan of care with your physical therapist, beyond simply getting out of immediate pain, will not only allow you to feel better quickly, but will keep you feeling better for the future.
Physical therapy can help you avoid surgery
Many people struggling with an injury will receive imaging in the form of x-rays or MRIs to help diagnose their pain.
The problem, however, is when people let their imaging define them. Often times, MRIs can reveal a tear or dysfunction in a structure that is not in fact the true source of a person’s pain. In addition, there are people that have identifiable tears on an image but no pain whatsoever.
Even though the image may show an abnormality, it may be an irrelevant finding at the end of the day. In summary, there is not always correlation between pain and x-ray/MRI findings, and there is not always correlation between pain and tissue damage.
That being said, an image abnormality is not a ticket to surgical intervention for correction. Insurance companies sometimes require, and many doctors will often recommend, a course of physical therapy first in the hopes of avoiding surgery.
The benefits of physical therapy for avoiding surgery include soft tissue therapy such IASTM, dry needling and ART, improving muscular strength, and reprogramming muscle patterns and movement to reduce stress on the problem area and prevent recurrence.
Physical therapy helps you recover from surgery
It is possible that even after completing physical therapy, surgery may be your best option.
However, all will not be lost from your initial physical therapy treatments. The gains you made in physical therapy will help you in your post-operative recovery, highlighting another benefit of physical therapy as supported by research.
There is significant research highlighting the benefits of undergoing physical therapy prior to surgery in order to improve functional ability and capacity that translates after surgery.
Patients who underwent surgery for a hip replacement that also had physical therapy before their operation had better hip range of motion and better functional scores up to six months later when compared to their counterparts who did not complete physical therapy beforehand. In addition, these patients were able to walk further upon discharge from the hospital and were more likely to be discharged to their home instead of a rehabilitation facility (Gilbey, H.J. et al., 2003; Rooks, D.S. et al., 2006).
For patients receiving a knee replacement, effects were similar for those who received physical therapy beforehand; walking up and down stairs, squatting, and quadriceps strength were all improved in the pre-physical therapy group, and pain was rated lower than those who did not receive any pre-surgical physical therapy (Topp, R. et al., 2009).
Physical therapists are the go-to practitioners when it comes to rehabilitating patients following a surgical procedure.
Regardless of the body part and surgery performed, our physical therapists at F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic are well trained in all surgical protocols.
Other benefits of physical therapy following surgery include:
- easier restoration of normal range of motion to the affected joint
- reduction of tissue tension due to immobilization in a brace or sling
- strengthening of the muscles surrounding the area
- restoration of full function to the whole body.
Even though your surgeon has fixed the problem, it’s the job of a physical therapist—and you—to optimize your outcomes from that surgery. Without proper intervention with a physical therapist, the work of your surgeon may go unrealized due to improper or a lack of rehabilitation in physical therapy.
Physical therapy can help prevent injuries and improve performance
Even if you are not dealing with a current injury or pain, one of the benefits of physical therapy in Kansas City is that your therapist can work with you to prevent injuries you may sustain with sport activities.
There is significant research that supports injury prevention protocols such as ACL prevention programs utilized by our providers, and guidelines for prevention of throwing injuries for baseball players.
A physical therapist can teach you proper body mechanics and movement patterns, balance any muscle irregularities, and keep you participating in athletics. It is always better to be proactive rather than reactive. A program of prevention techniques, guided by one of our highly skilled physical therapists, can keep you on the court, on the field, or in the gym without losing a step due to injury.
Get back to the things you love
With less time spent in rehabilitation, you can focus more time on improving performance in the things you love. F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic physical therapists also work with athletes to help improve overall performance through daily life and with recreational activities by using manual therapy techniques such as IASTM, ART, and dry needling to keep tissue healthy and functional.
Our rehabilitative exercises, especially Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS), work to train the central nervous system alongside the musculoskeletal system to make your body more efficient, stronger, and resilient, while also emphasizing the importance of sport-specific activities that will translate to your athletic events.
Our treatments let you focus on improving your performance instead of recovering from injury. And with our one-on-one care model, which is rare in the rehabilitation field, you’ll receive our undivided attention. This will help us get you to better outcomes.
Physical therapy is an effective alternative to opioids
You may have heard of the “opioid epidemic” that has been happening in the United States. As opioids were originally intended for short term use, it’s important to find alternatives to prescription medication to treat pain.
Opioids work by exerting their effects on receptors in the brain to decrease the perception of pain. However, they do not in any way address the underlying cause and source of the painful stimulus. Physical therapy benefits you in ways prescription medication cannot, as it targets the culprit, not just the symptom.
F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic utilizes techniques such as active rehabilitation and corrective exercises, manual therapy, joint manipulation and mobilizations, dry needling, and kinesio taping as part of our treatment interventions in order to treat the cause of your pain.
By correcting the problem, you will not only decrease pain, but also improve the way your body moves. These benefits are long lasting—unlike those achieved with opioid use.
Seeking conservative therapy first helps speed up the process of getting out of pain and getting back to function without reliance on prescription medication.
Research shows that patients who saw a physical therapist in the first three days after the initiation of pain saw the lowest cost of treatment and the lowest utilization of healthcare. This includes a lower probability of opioid prescription use, as well as a lower probability of imaging. Patients who did not receive conservative care saw the greatest costs in general (Frogner, B.K. et al., 2018; Liu, X. et al., 2018).
Learn more about the benefits of physical therapy from the experts at F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic
Struggling with pain? Want to avoid surgery? Or maybe you need to recover from surgery or are looking to improve movement and performance. No matter your needs, if you're interested in finding alternatives to pain management, we encourage you to give us a call.
One of our providers will be happy to speak with you regarding your unique case and discuss potential options and benefits of physical therapy in Kansas City.
All of our physical therapists on hand are experts in their field with extensive continuing education and certifications that make F.I.T. Muscle & Joint Clinic the place to go for your physical therapy needs.
Frogner, B.K., Harwood, K., Andrilla, C.H.A., Schwartz, M., Pines, J.M. (2018). Physical therapy as the first point of care to treat low back pain: an instrumental variables approach to estimate impact on opioid prescription, health care utilization, and costs. Health Services Research.
Gilbey, H.J., Ackland, T.R., Wang, A.W., Morton, A.R., Trouchet, T., Tapper, J. (2003). Exercise improves early functional recovery after total hip arthroplasty. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research;408:193-200.
Liu, X., Hanney, W.J., Masaracchio, M., Kolber, M.J., Zhao, M., Spaulding, A.C., Gabriel, M.H. (2018). Immediate physical therapy Initiation in patients with acute low back pain is associated with a reduction in downstream health care utilization and costs. Physical Therapy;98(5):36-347.
Rooks, D.S., Huang, J., Bierbaum, B.E., et al. (2006). Effect of preoperative exercise on measures of functional status in mend and women undergoing total hip and knee arthroplasty. Arthritis & Rheumatism; 55(5):700-708.
5. Topp, R., Swank, A.M., Quesada, P.M., Nyland, J., Malkani, A. (2009). The effect of prehabilitation exercise on strength and functioning after total knee arthroplasty. PM&R;1:729-735.