As discussed in our last blog, an integrative medical clinic (IMC) employs several providers from complementary disciplines. At our clinics, we employ providers who treat musculoskeletal problems and pain. One discipline you’ll find at our clinics is physical therapy and rehab. These specialists are instrumental in helping patients to heal and regain functionality after an injury. Let’s take a closer look at our physical therapists’ unique role and why their patients benefit from seeing them at an IMC.
What Do Physical Therapists Do?
Physical therapists are experts on human movement and the musculoskeletal system. They use exercises, stretches, and other techniques to relieve inflammation, restore range of motion, and build strength and balance. Physical therapy is often used as a first-line treatment for sports injuries and personal injuries from car accidents and slips and falls.
Physical therapists stabilize joints (including the spine) by building strength in the surrounding muscles. They work with patients to increase flexibility and balance through exercise and other treatments. Both new and old injuries benefit from physical therapy.
One of the most critical parts of any physical therapy treatment is the evaluation of progress. Your physical therapist will ask questions before every appointment to determine how you respond to treatment. They use this information to create a personalized treatment plan.
Why See a Physical Therapist?
Traumatic injury is one of the most common reasons a patient is referred to physical therapy. Physical therapy dramatically improves healing outcomes in patients with soft tissue injuries. Prompt physical therapy can reduce the chance of an injury causing chronic pain and encourage a healthier heal and more functionality after healing.
In addition to acute injuries, physical therapists treat chronic joint pain and repetitive use injuries. Many young, healthy people notice knee or hip pain without an apparent cause. Body mechanics play a vital role in these cases. For instance, foot problems or weak hips can cause knee pain. A physical therapist will evaluate you to see which area of your body is weak or out of balance. By strategically building strength and flexibility, physical therapy helps your body work optimally and prevents joint strain. People with degenerative diseases like arthritis can also benefit from physical therapy. Even though it will not cure the underlying illness, it can improve range of motion and reduce pain.
Physical therapists treat repetitive strain injuries using stretches and exercises that reduce tension and build strength without doing further damage. Even more important, your therapist can advise you on lifestyle changes to prevent further aggravation of the injury.
Physical Therapy and Surgery
It is standard practice for post-surgical patients to be referred to physical therapy. Surgery can weaken muscles, and there is always a risk of complications with healing, such as excess scar tissue. It is common knowledge in the medical community that post-surgical physical therapy improves healing and function. It also helps manage pain and can prevent the overuse of opioids.
Sometimes surgery is unavoidable, but in some instances, physical therapy can prevent surgery. When you see a physical therapist to address pain in the early stages, they will help you correct the root cause of your pain before surgery is inevitable. Even in patients who need surgery, physical therapy before surgery (“pre-hab”) can improve outcomes and help you heal faster.
The Benefits of Combining Treatments
Physical therapists treat pain by focusing on movement, strength, and flexibility. This approach can benefit most injuries, especially since building strength can prevent re-injury. However, there are some things that physical therapy can’t do. This is why combining treatments is the best approach for many patients.
The body is complex, and injury treatment needs to be multifaceted.
Let’s consider a sprained ankle that has caused pain for months due to a stalled healing process. A PRP injection is needed to promote healing at the cellular level. The injection brings healing factors to the area that reduce inflammation and helps the body complete the healing process. Because of prolonged pain, the patient hasn’t used their ankle normally for months. Now, the ankle is weak, and some ligaments may be tight or overstretched. Physical therapy is the best treatment to address these problems. Without it, the patient risks frequent re-injury and reduced function.
Similarly, someone with a spinal disc injury may need spinal decompression therapy to relieve pressure on the nerves and change the environment around the spinal disc to promote healing. Spinal disc injuries happen more frequently in people with weak back muscles. Physical therapy will help the patient strengthen their muscles, so their spine is held in place. Physical therapy aids with circulation to the spine and can improve flexibility. Both of these benefits work to prevent injury.
Why See a Physical Therapist at an IMC?
Physical therapists are all about progress. They want to see their patients making noticeable gains after every appointment. They know that coordinating with other providers can help their patients progress faster.
Your physical therapist will work with other providers when designing your treatment plan and incorporate complementary treatments. A coordinated approach allows your providers to address the many causes of pain instead of only treating one. Comprehensive treatment leads to better healing outcomes. That means you will be at less risk of chronic pain or permanently reduced function. Complete healing is always the patient’s goal, so getting treatment at a clinic that shares that priority makes sense.
Physical Therapy in Houston
At Vanguard Spine and Sport, we provide physical therapy in an integrated setting. Our physical therapists are masters at designing personalized treatment plans that address a patient’s diverse needs. Schedule a consultation today to find out how physical therapy at an integrated medical clinic can help you enjoy life without pain.