Why Physical Therapy May Be a Better Pain Reliever Than Medication

According to the Health Services Research Journal, patients that use physical therapy as a first treatment saw 72% fewer costs than those who did not. This month is Physical Therapy Awareness Month, and we are taking the time to highlight SIMEDHealth Physical Therapy. We talked to David Ochs, a physical therapist at SIMEDHealth Physical Therapy, about what injuries can be treated with outpatient PT and how it compares against prescribed pain medication. 


  1. What is physical therapy?

 Ochs says, "Outpatient physical therapy is a medical service that specializes in movement disorders and limitations of some form. This type of therapy provides a complete treatment plan designed by a licensed physical therapist. The plan focuses on a patient's improvement of their overall functional level, whether their function is restricted by pain, stiffness, spasms, weakness, acute or chronic problems. Treatment incorporates specific exercises for balance, strength, range of motion, and endurance with education on techniques to improve their daily activities." Physical therapists are directly involved in every step of the patient's journey from the initial evaluation to recovery. 


 2. What are some injuries and ailments that can benefit from early physical therapy?

Physical therapy can help a wide variety of people. Some of these conditions include:

  •  Orthopedic limitations such as sprains, strains, joint replacement, or rotator cuff surgeries 
  • Neurological disorders like Parkinson's or Multiple Sclerosis 
  • Rheumatologic diseases such as Arthritis or Fibromyalgia  
  • Pulmonary disorders such as COPD 
  • Chronic and acute neck, thoracic or low back spinal conditions 
  • Headaches
  • Vertigo, balance limitations
  • Hand and wrist problems like carpal tunnel syndrome


 3. What tools do physical therapists use to help their patients?

Patients receive treatments with a variety of equipment and tools. Ochs explains, "The primary 'tool' a physical therapist uses is their hands. Through palpitation, manipulation, and massage, the PT helps diagnose and treat the problems. Other tools include a heated pool, treadmills, stationary cycles, balance boards, ultrasounds, resistive therabands, custom hand splints, foot orthotics, taping, cuff weights, and resistive pulleys, to name a few." This list may seem overwhelming, but the physical therapist is there every step of the way to guide the patient on how to use them. Also, not every patient will be using every piece of equipment. Their PT develops with them a personalized treatment plan outlining which tools they will use to help them best recover. 


4. How could physical therapy be a better pain reliever than medication?

"A significant benefit to using physical therapy is the education a patient receives in regards to how to manage their ailment and pain at home," says Ochs. Patients are taught at home exercises, and the PT and the patient work together to decrease and hopefully resolve the current pain. These at-home exercises will always be available to patients to start early in the event that their pain becomes a recurrent problem. By attacking the pain source earlier in the recovery, the patient is often able to suppress the pain better and more rapidly resume their regular functions. Physical therapists can assist with a plan that helps maximize pain reduction while continuing to improve their functional status at the same time. 


Click here to schedule an appointment with your physician to determine is Physical Therapy is appropriate for you. 

Everyone Deserves a Massage!

One may think of getting a massage as a relaxing activity done at a day spa, which is true, but getting this form of therapy done regularly could help with other mental and physical ailments. The first week in June is Everyone Deserves a Massage week, so we found out how beneficial massage therapy can be by talking to licensed massage therapist Linda Pineiro of SIMEDHealth Physical Therapy. 

1.    What are the different types of techniques used for this form of therapy?
In a general sense, massage therapy is a consistent course of massages, which is just a manipulation of the tissue and muscles of the body, whether that be pressing, rubbing, or moving. 

Different types of massage include Swedish, Sports, Deep Tissue, Trigger Point, Hot Stone, Connective Tissue Therapy, Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Neuromuscular Therapy, Thai, Prenatal, and Chair. SIMEDHealth massage therapy provides Swedish, Connective Tissue Therapy, and Neuromuscular therapy. All these types have different advantages and disadvantages and come with specific techniques. Swedish massage increases blood circulation and promotes muscle relaxation while Connective Tissue and Neuromuscular therapy are deep tissue massages that aim to relieve pain and improve mobility.

2.    What are some illnesses or ailments that massage would help?

There are many benefits to getting regular massage therapy to manage health maladies and stress. Common conditions that this control is migraines, lower back pain, chronic ailments, anxiety, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and chronic pain. Also, massages can be used to enhance injury rehabilitation. There have been studies done that suggest massages can reduce blood pressure, improve sleep quality, and improve circulation. 

4.    Mentally, how does massage help?

Massage therapy has been known to improve mood, reduce fatigue, reduce symptoms of depression, and anxiety. When someone is not feeling at their best mentally, a massage can be a great pick me up. The massage therapist can help them relax and step away from the things that are getting them worked up. 

For more information on SIMEDHealth massage and physical therapy, visit our website

Occupational Therapy and Its Benefits

Since the 1920s, occupational therapy has been a legitimate form of treating and helping patients. April is Occupational Therapy Month, so we talked to Ginger McFadden, occupational therapist, about what occupational therapy is and what it can do to help people.

What is occupational therapy?

                Ginger says, “occupational therapy (OT) assists people throughout the entire life span, to achieve one's fullest level of function.” Occupational therapists are different from physical therapists because occupational therapy is about helping patients of all ages independently perform necessary tasks. The most common cases of people needing OT is when a person is recovering from an injury, a child with disabilities needs to participate fully in social situations, and when an older adult needs help to adjust to physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy is also holistic and spans all settings.

What problems can patients overcome with occupational therapy?

                There are two different categories in OT that a patient's actions are broken down into. One is called Activities of Daily Living (ADL) which involve the things we do to take care of ourselves. Activities such as dressing, feeding, bathing, mobility, and other significant life skills are all classified as ADL. The second category is called Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) and has more to do with how the patient interacts with their environment and community. Some examples of these activities are taking care of children and pets, financial management, and shopping. Both ADL and IADL difficulties can be overcome through occupational therapy.

Why is occupational therapy important?

                OT is crucial because "it gives people their lives back," Ginger says. The therapy gives people their independence and an improved quality of life. OT also focuses so much on the patient and giving them a one of a kind treatment plan because the therapists understand that everyone is different and needs different things.

                Ginger is an occupational therapist that specializes in hand therapy. She treats individuals with hand and upper extremity issues and diagnosis people with arthritis, EDS, trauma, neurological and tendon ruptures, to name a few. Also, all therapists at SIMEDHealth Physical Therapy see patients pre and post operations.  Ginger says, “As an OT Certified Hand Therapist, our clinic uses the patients activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living as a forum for achieving hand and upper extremity independence.”


Click here to learn more about SIMEDHealth's physical and occupational therapy options.