Physical therapy is a crucial part of the medical field that provides health care to patients as a supplement to traditional medicinal practices.
Physical therapists are doctors trained to help patients manage pain or cope with chronic conditions related to human movement and musculoskeletal issues. Most physical therapists use a specialized treatment plan for each patient rather than medication.
So can physical therapists prescribe medications? It depends on the practice guidelines of the specific physical therapy practice. While some physical therapists can prescribe medication, most can achieve the primary goals of physical therapy without prescription drugs.
What is the Main Goal of a Physical Therapist?
The main goals of physical therapy are to help patients with pain management, promote healing and well-being, improve mobility or range of motion, and assist patients with movement-related injuries.
Because physical therapists are licensed doctors, they may be able to write prescriptions for patients. However, the ultimate goal of physical therapy is to improve patient function and quality of life, a feat not always achieved through prescription medication.
Most physical therapists work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to establish individual patient needs and treatment plans. Typically, another physician handles all prescription medication needs, while physical therapists focus more on therapy techniques, including exercise, spinal manipulation, and stretching.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Prescription medication often treats a person’s symptoms rather than the cause of the pain itself. Patients suffering from spinal injuries, chronic pain, and other similar conditions may be prescribed opioids to relieve pain. These prescription opioids can become addictive, causing many patients to choose to avoid prescribed opioids altogether.
Physical therapy assesses a person’s chronic pain or musculoskeletal injuries and develops a specific care plan to help with recovery without using prescription opioids.
Physical therapy can help with many problems, including chronic pain, musculoskeletal conditions, knee osteoarthritis, arthritis, and low back pain.
Physical Therapist’s Pain Management Techniques
There are many ways that physical therapy can help with pain management without the usage of pain medication. Some pain management techniques utilized by therapists include:
Specific exercises are helpful in reducing pain and promoting rehabilitation. Exercising can promote muscle function and rehabilitation and increase patients’ mental health.
Manual therapy involves the treatment of pain in muscles and joints. Forms of manual therapy include massage therapy and stretching designed to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
For patients with chronic low back pain, spinal manipulation is a great technique to reduce pain and promote lower back movement. Spinal manipulation is widespread in sports medicine and involves stretching techniques and low-impact movement.
What a Physical Therapist Can Do
There are many perks to physical therapy treatment that a normal doctor cannot provide.
Because physical therapists have prolonged direct access to their patients, they can form close doctor-patient relationships and establish patient goals.
These close connections are vital for patients seeking physical therapy for cancer treatment, palliative care, or end-of-life care. A healthcare professional who is closely connected to their patients is valuable, especially regarding patients’ quality of life.
Assess Risks of Injury
Physical therapy is not only meant for existing injuries but also as preventative care. Movement screenings are available to patients to establish the health of their muscles and joints and predict where an injury is most likely to occur.
Develop Personalized Routines
Physical therapists have the expertise to develop appropriate exercise plans with low risks for patients. A physical therapist can assess pain levels, body, goals, and function to develop an exercise routine that can assist in treatment.
Accelerate Healing Process
Physical therapy can be a great way to speed up recovery without using pain medication or other prescription drugs for patients suffering from an injury or a recent surgery.
Through exercise, manual therapy, and other forms of treatment, a physical therapist can help improve the range of motion or mobility issues associated with injury or surgery recovery.
Correct Posture and Alignment
Physical therapy can help to relieve any issues associated with body posture or alignment. Posture and alignment issues are the leading causes of low back pain.
While pain medication can offer short-term relief for back pain, physical therapy can permanently treat the issue and eliminate back pain.
Promote Holistic Healing
Physical therapy is an excellent practice for promoting holistic healing or interconnected healing of the body and mind. In certain cases, patients may not want to take medicine.
Prescription opioids, often prescribed for pain, can become addictive or dangerous, especially for athletes regarding sports medicine. For patients wanting to avoid opioid use, physical therapy can help to treat pain medicine-free.
Offer Supplemental Therapy
Physical therapy can be a supplemental way to treat pain or practice healing exercises. A physical therapist can work with a patient’s physician to determine what exercises or physical therapy techniques fit best with a patient’s medication plan.
Becoming a Physical Therapist
Physical therapy is a rewarding occupation that allows for impactful work and one-on-one relationship-building with patients. If you want to pursue a career in physical therapy, consult the American Physical Therapy Association for requirements and next steps.
For current physical therapists looking to make a broader impact, travel physical therapy may be the place for you. Being able to help others manage their pain and promote well-being in a new location is exciting and rewarding.
CLICK APPLY to Allied Travel Careers to find a travel physical therapist job perfect for you!