How Physical Therapy Helps You Manage Chronic Pain

How Physical Therapy Helps You Manage Chronic Pain

For chronic pain, seeking a long-term pain management technique is natural. We all cope with pain differently. But the best choice you can make in managing chronic pain is the rehab docs physical therapy. Physical therapy treats the pain and its source, providing pain relief and improving the quality of life. Physical therapists employ multiple techniques to help you manage chronic pain.

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy, or PT, is an active form of therapy that encompasses multiple practices to alleviate pain, restore mobility, and improve quality of life. Physical therapists examine your body to determine the pain areas and tailor a treatment plan that involves strengthening exercises and stretches to minimize the pain.

How physical therapy treats chronic pain

Physical therapy leverages manual therapy and other nonpharmacological interventions to treat pain. When you visit a physical therapist, they will perform a physical exam to gauge the pain level and pinpoint the affected areas. After an accurate diagnosis, you will likely receive treatment in one of the following ways.


Exercise is still the first-line treatment option for chronic pain when combined with physical therapy. Strengthening exercises and stretches relieve pain and improve the range of mobility which aids in efficient joint movement. Since exercises are an active form of PT, they vary in intensity from person to person. Myofascial release, resistance exercise, aquatic exercises, and hands-on joint manipulation are some techniques a PT expert may use to treat chronic pain.


A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) is a form of pain treatment that sends electrical pulses underneath your skin to override the relay of pain signals to the brain. TENS treats chronic pain for individuals who experience immense pain, especially after a motor vehicle accident.

Ultrasound therapy

Passive forms of physical therapy, such as ultrasound therapy, manage soft tissue pain. Sometimes you may sustain an injury that damages your internal tissues. In ultrasound therapy, the physician places a gel on the affected area and uses an ultrasound machine to send waves to the soft tissue. The waves reduce inflammation and minimize pain.

Rest, ice, and compression therapy

RICE is a standard physical therapy treatment for pain. Ice prevents immediate swelling after you are injured. It is the ideal treatment to reduce inflammation. Heat therapy relieves muscle tightness that may cause pain. A blend of ice, heat, and compression therapy helps you recover from pain faster. Sports experts recommend RICE to expedite recovery from an injury among athletes.

When to seek a physical therapist

Recently, physical therapy has been in the spotlight as the preferred pain management technique over opioid pain medications. Pain relievers are just as effective but can lead to addiction over time. The use of physical therapy to treat chronic pain has considerable merits, such as helping you avoid surgery, restoring mobility, decreasing pain, and resulting in faster recovery times.

If you are trying to cope with chronic pain, you may seek a physical therapist’s help. It would help if you considered the physical therapist’s expertise before booking a visit. Ideally, you want to visit a certified physical therapist to recover from a non-bleeding injury. If you experience back pain, knee pain, neck pain, or any pain, you should check in with a physical therapist. The experts pan down to the root cause of the pain and curate a personalized care plan to treat chronic pain.