The Benefits of Physical Therapy vs. Medication when Treating Pain

28th Mar 2016

Posted by Sara Zuboff on

The Benefits of Physical Therapy vs. Medication when Treating Pain

I read a great article today about the benefits of seeking out physical therapy over medication. (See Perscription vs Practice) It detailed the benefits of physical therapy (no unpleasant side effects and safest long-term option). This article is so important for potential physical therapy clients who are suffering from chronic pain. Most of the time, our 

Physical Therapy Instead of Medication for Chronic Pain

patients want the quickest solution: to have their pain cease. They know that if they take medication, they will most likely have relief almost immediately. The problem with this type of mindset is it masks the problem (the pain) while offering no real solution for eradicating it or in severe cases, long-term management.

Physical therapy is a real solution for pain. Whether a patient is suffering from fibromyalgia, arthritis, athletic injuries, sprains, etc, a physical therapist can create a regimen that in most cases stops the pain, but lowers the chance of reoccurrence in the future. Education is key not only for educating patients on the help that physical therapists can provide, but also teaching referring doctors the positive benefits physical therapy can provide their patients.

It’s important that patients understand that there are ways a physical therapist can help with their immediate pain, but also long-term work that can be used to help them lead a healthy life in the future.

5 Physical Therapy Treatment Options for Pain

  1. Cold Compression Therapy: This modality is useful for immediate pain relief for a number of patient problems: from multiple sclerosis to athletic sprains. The therapeutic cold temporarily numbs the nerve cells that signal the sensation of pain, while the active cold compression helps reduce swelling.
  2. Paraffin Wax Therapy: Paraffin therapy is another great modality for immediate pain relief. Heat increases blood flow and temporarily decreases joint stiffness and pain. This is another versatile modality which can help patients suffering from fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, arthritis and athletic injuries.
  3. Kinesio Tape: Kinesio tape is a modality that helps in pain relief, swelling reduction and improvement in lymph function. But another great benefit of using Kinesio tape is it can help patient’s maintain the proper posture in order to promote healthy muscle memory and posture training.
  4. Ultrasound/TENS: Used together or separately, ultrasound and TENS can be used for effective treatment of pain. A combination unit is good for treating: A combination Ultrasound/TENS unit is useful in treating chronic conditions like Fibromyalgia, deep tissue problems like Sciatica, and more superficial injuries like tendonitis.
  5. Therapeutic Exercise: Therapeutic exercise is a key part of managing pain and lowering the risk of reoccurrence. Used to strengthen or increase flexibility, therapeutic exercise will help patients learn to use their bodies in healthy ways that will help them avoid pain in the future.

When we sustain an injury or have an issue that causes chronic pain, it is tempting to reach for the solution that will stop the pain fast. I’m not saying don’t take oral medication, what I’m saying is patients should take the medication, then seek the help of a qualified physical therapist to help them not only decrease the pain, but get a long-term solution for eliminating pain or avoiding future injury in the future.

For more information about physical therapy modalities and products please visit