Physical Therapy for Pain Relief

For many, medication is the de facto solution for pain management, as pain medication works quickly and effectively. Pain medication, however, is less of a cure-all and more a short-term solution that can mask the underlying source of pain. Physical therapy is an effective alternative to consider for long-lasting improvement with pain.

Physical Therapy Can Help

There are two types of pain: acute and chronic. As the names suggest, acute pain is a condition lasting anywhere from a couple days to weeks, while chronic pain can endure for months or even years.

Both acute and chronic pain are treated at Meritus Total Rehab Care, a broad-scope practice in Hagerstown, which specializes in rehabilitation services such as physical therapy.

Ellen Barr, D.P.T., of Meritus Total Rehab Care says physical therapy can help treat musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders, which can manifest in pain in areas such as a patient’s knees, back and/or neck.

Returning Power to the Patient

“Our goal is for you to become independent and manage your condition on your own,” explains Barr.

Unlike pain medication, physical therapy can address the source factors causing pain and alleviate symptoms over time with minimal side effects.

Barr likened the effectiveness of physical therapy to that of a weight loss journey — you may not see progress overnight, but with consistency and dedication, positive changes will occur. Focusing on the goal of long-term pain relief can help patients find the determination to push through plateaus.

“Typically, patients we work with will receive a home exercise program that they can do independently,” says Barr. “It might include stretching and strengthening exercises, soft tissue work using a foam roller, pressure-point devices that alleviate headaches or self-massage techniques to reduce muscle tension. The ultimate purpose is for the patient to have the education and support to experience long-term health and pain relief.”

Nothing to be afraid of

Fear is a large factor with chronic pain and a primary reason many avoid physical therapy. In reality, physical therapy can be a fun, supportive experience that eliminates pain for good.

Patients who visit Meritus Total Rehab Care work one-on-one with a therapist for about 45 minutes of direct attention. During this time, patients are encouraged to ask questions and build a positive relationship with their physical therapist.

“The patient has to be open to receiving help and be an active participant in order for the therapy to be successful,” says Barr.

With the solutions a physical therapist can provide, patients can enjoy long-term pain relief with a positive side effect of independence!

Meritus Health, at 11116 Medical Campus Road, east of Hagerstown, is the largest health system in the area, providing hospital and outpatient services to the community. Subscribe to Your Health Matters, a monthly e-newsletter with important health information, at