Physical Therapy for Pain Relief…Really?

Seniors faced with chronic pain have limited options for finding relief. A couple options which are regularly used are medication–which can include potentially harmful and addictive opioids, and physical therapy. Pain medications can be an easy option for pain reduction, but stronger, narcotic pain relievers can often have severe consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “from 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people have died from a drug overdose…of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.” The extremely addictive qualities of some pain medications is what motivates many seniors to turn to physical therapy. Physical therapy is an increasingly popular pathway for relief that can benefit those who use it mentally as well as physically through safe, monitored treatment. 

Benefits of physical therapy include: 

  • Increased strength
  • Heightened flexibility
  • Education on how to perform difficult daily tasks
  • Decreased pain

There are various types of physical therapy, which include: manual therapy, cold therapy, heat therapy, hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation therapy, cold laser therapy, and ultrasound therapy. These forms of therapy utilize various ways and mechanics to stabilize, relax, strengthen, and ultimately improve the life of the senior. Manual therapy is a great example of a pain relieving physical therapy. Manual therapy utilizes joint stretches, manipulations, and mobilizations in order to soothe chronic and acute aches and pains. This type of therapy, that uses hands-on methods, can improve coordination, increase the range of motion, and relax tense muscles. 

Physical therapy can make enormous life-quality differences for seniors through renewed strength, better balance, pain relief, and mental clarity and confidence as pain decreases and they turn away from pain medications.  Their quality of life improves with diminished physical pain, and not needing mind-fogging, narcotic pain killers in their daily regimen. At Bel Aire in American Fork, we recognize the benefits and importance of using physical therapy as a first response for many types of pain. Our inclination has evolved, in assisting our residents with their pain management, to encourage the use of home health agencies to our residents and their family decision-makers. For more information on Bel Aire Senior Living services, visit

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