We have patients ask us about pain management every day. Pain is something we will all encounter at some point. Whether the patient is just out of surgery, experienced a motor vehicle accident or sprained an ankle. For many, like the person recovering from a total knee replacement, medications are a necessary component of the rehabilitation process. However, as physical therapists we are trained to assist our patients with management of pain, without the use of medications. Modalities are treatment options we use to relieve pain, modify inflammation and healing, alter collagen extensibility, and modify muscle tone. In short, our goal is to decrease pain and inflammation, and reduce stiffness in muscles and joints. Below is a list of different modalities used to effectively reduce your pain, swelling, or other symptoms.
Popular Modality Treatments Include:
Cold packs, Ice massage, Cryo-cuffs: control inflammation, edema (swelling), and pain, reduce spasticity, and facilitate movement.
Hot Packs: control pain, increase ROM, decrease joint stiffness, increase circulation, and accelerate healing.
Electrical stimulation: use of electrical current through an area of the body. There are several types of e-stim. E-stim helps to reduce pain, improve tissue healing, and reduce edema and inflammation. Many forms of e-stim are used in combination with hot/cold packs to enhance the benefits.
Paraffin: warm, melted wax. Mostly used on the hands and feet to warm the joints/tissues. Also helps condition the skin, improve circulation, and desensitize hyperactive nerves.
Ultrasound: Application of ultrasonic waves to targeted areas of the body. Can be used for thermal – tissue heating, pain relief; and non-thermal – tissue healing, inflammatory reduction; benefits.
Mechanical traction: traction is a form of decompression therapy. The patient is harnessed on a therapy table. This type of distraction can be performed on lower spine or the upper spine. It relieves pressure on the spine and alleviates pain from joints, sprains, and spasms. It can also treat herniated discs, sciatica, degenerative disc disease, pinched nerves, and many other back conditions.
Anodyne: use of light therapy for tissue heating, increased circulation, and tissue regeneration, mostly used for patients with mild neuropathy in the lower legs/feet.
Additionally, there are many other modalities that are used for specific conditions. If you have questions, about how to best manage your pain let your physical therapist know.
Ryan Larson PT, DPT has been treating patients with a variety of modalities to ensure their successful return to their active lifestyle.