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Starting with a conservative treatment plan

Due to its complexity, being in pain, no matter the type, can be one of the most difficult experiences to encounter. Explaining to others the pain you are experiencing can become problematic, as it can seem like no one understands. There are numerous researchers and journals that continue to debate on the mechanisms of pain and how to treat people who are suffering it.

As physical therapists, our method is to treat the whole person. We listen to your story, develop a plan to help you return to the things that you love to do, and ensure this with as little pain as possible. We utilize many different techniques to discover exactly what works for you as an individual and get you back on your feet.

Start with Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a conservative approach and should be the first option for many people in pain. In a study published by Moseley et al. in 2002, 165 patients were randomly assigned to either receive actual arthroscopic surgery of the knee or a mock surgery, in which patients were cut open but no actual surgery was performed. The study found that there were no differences in recovery for the actual surgery compared to the placebo procedure [1].

This finding shows that there are alternative, less aggressive and more cost-effective approaches to becoming pain-free.

What about a MRI?

MRI images of the back can also show signs of degenerative discs and disc herniations. While these terms may sound scary, there are actually a great amount of people who have positive signs for these conditions and are not in pain at all. In a systematic review done in 2015 by Brinjikji et al., the researchers found that 80% of 50 year olds have disc degeneration and 60% of 50 year olds have disc bulging. The study makes the conclusion that “many imaging-based degenerative features are likely part of normal aging and unassociated with pain” [2].

It is important that you find out exactly where your pain is coming from, and how it can be alleviated.

In Summary

Seeing a physical therapist first allows the opportunity for a full assessment to discover what is happening to your body. The clinician will be able to identify factors relating to your pain and can prescribe treatments for your condition. As a healthcare professional, physical therapists are part of a team. If a PT here at Active Physical Therapy deems it medically necessary, then they can refer you to the proper specialist that you need to see. For some, surgery is necessary, but for many, physical therapy is the best conservative alternative to treat the pain in your life.

Written by Matt Hogan, Spring 2017 Intern from The Ohio State University

1. Moseley JB, O’Malley K, Petersen NJ. A controlled trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. N Engl J Med. 2002 Jul 11;347(2):81–8. PubMed         #12110735.PainSci #56845.
2. Brinjikji, W. et al. “Systematic Literature Review of Imaging Features of Spinal Degeneration in Asymptomatic Populations.” AJNR. American journal of neuroradiology 36.4 (2015):        811–816. PMC. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

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