Balance & Gait Disorders Eugene, OR

What’s Essential? An Evaluation, and Three Strategies.

When we are in pain, most of us would do almost anything to try to relieve it.  Don’t think for a minute that the marketplace doesn’t realize this fact. Indeed, there is a steady flow of the newest healing creams, tinctures, devices, and techniques claiming to: speed up, relieve, or even “end” your pain.  Scrolling through Facebook in the last week, I’ve seen the following advertisements: a jack hammer-like massager, a wheel that you roll your back on, a computer device that corrects your posture, and a whole video series you can buy that “Ends back pain.”

With all these products promising to do so much, and yet, so frequently failing to really help, it got me thinking about what we do differently as physical therapists that makes it so commonplace for patients to report lasting improvements with treatment at Essential Physical Therapy, Inc.

 As I pondered this question, I was surprised to realize that there are only a few “essentials”.

First, the evaluation:

A skilled evaluation of your musculoskeletal system helps determine not only where your pain is coming from, but also reveals the current stage of the healing.  This primary step makes it possible for the therapist (and for you) to make good decisions about your care. Only after this has been done do we employ any of the strategies available.  In other words, the evaluation is the key. If we don’t know the variables contributing to your pain, any strategy, any device, or any technique employed is just grasping for straws and hoping for the best.  

But after the examination reveals the problems, here are the three basic strategies your therapist will use:

  1. If we find that something is tight, we can help restore normal mobility.
  2. If we find that something is weak, we can teach you how to make it stronger.
  3. If we find that the way you are managing your problem is keeping you from recovering, the appropriate strategy is education.

As you see, the strategies to aid healing and recovery are not complex.  It is the evaluation process that gives the treatment strategy some context.  This is why creams, tinctures, devices, or treatments don’t always help. They are like tools in a toolbox.  What’s the use of a tool unless you know how, when, where, why, and how long to use it.

For instance, what if you saw the Facebook add for the back roller, and thought, “That looks like just the thing for my sore back.”  Now, if you happen to have tightness in the spinal joints in the exact way that the roller stretches them, the device just might help.  But, if your back pain is due to trunk weakness, or due to tightness of the spine in another direction, the tool will be of no use, and will end up in the yard sale pile.

My advice?  When it comes to pain, don’t throw your money away on gadgets, tinctures, creams, or treatments promising to do too much.  Schedule an appointment at Essential Physical Therapy, and our expert physical therapists will figure out the best path for your recovery.  That’s our promise 🙂

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