A Physical Approach to Pain Treatment

Anthony Henderson, DPT

By Anthony Henderson, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is designed not only to treat physical limitations, but also to ensure improved pain over a longer period of time, overall functional mobility with a high success rate for treatment, and a 72-percent reduction in the medical cost of treatment within the first year. However, physical therapy can be one of the most challenging methods for treating pain due to the rigorous work required, as compared to other treatments which may involve a more passive, quick-fix approach that can seem appealing for immediate pain relief. Due to this rigorous physical demand, patients often struggle to comply with a home exercise program and attend physical therapy appointments. At Sierra Tucson, physical therapy conveniently takes place on site and thus, vastly improves compliance.

Another challenge people often experience with physical therapy is a lack of one-on-one time with the physical therapist. Instead, more time is spent “handing off” the patient to physical therapy assistants and physical therapy technicians. Consequently, the individual may feel undervalued and unheard. At Sierra Tucson, each patient is granted 60 minutes during each visit with the same physical therapist. The treatment plan may be modified by the attending physical therapist to ensure treatment appropriateness, and adjustments are made as needed.

A Patient-Centered Approach

We use a pain-directed, interdisciplinary, professional team approach. Our Pain Recovery Program includes health care providers who work directly with each individual, offering a variety of interventions and strategies for self-management. Our comprehensive treatment focuses on a thorough assessment, communication within disciplines, education, and follow-up. We believe pain should never be the only focus assessed – it is important to take a holistic approach when shaping one’s overall treatment.

The Treatment Team

Physician Assistants
Nurse Practitioners
Physical Therapists
Recreational Therapists
Support Staff
Significant Others (family, friends, neighbors)

In a typical healthcare environment, there may be a primary care provider, a physical therapist, a counselor, and other specialists on staff. While they communicate occasionally, they seldom meet face-to-face as a team to discuss the well-being of every patient. Sierra Tucson’s interdisciplinary treatment team for the Pain Recovery Program meets regularly to review each individual’s treatment and care. We assess goals that have been set, the progress that has been made, difficulties and challenges, and next steps. Based on the patient’s progress, we are able to determine which team members may need to alter their approach and other areas that might require additional attention, as well as personally communicate with the patient.

Our goal at Sierra Tucson is to provide individuals with a well-balanced approach to treatment. Each team member complements the team as a whole. The patient is our priority – we respect his or her values and needs, coordinate and integrate appropriate care, provide emotional support, and involve his or her family and loved ones. We empower patients to take an active role in their recovery.

Physical therapy is designed to treat physical limitations and ensure improved pain. We believe in a well-balanced, holistic approach to treatment. Call today.