If you work with a physical therapist to help manage a chronic pain condition, you will probably receive some nutritional advice as part of the process. Physical therapists are not nutritionists, but providing nutritional advice to patients is well within the scope of a physical therapist’s duties. For some chronic conditions, dietary changes can make the biggest difference in reducing or eliminating pain. If you’d like more information on how nutrition and physical therapy go hand-in-hand, give our office a call.
Chronic Pain Conditions Impacted by Nutrition
There are a number of common conditions in America that are directly related to diet and nutrition. Here are some conditions in which nutritional advice will likely be a part of the patient’s physical therapy regimen:
- Obesity: Pain related to obesity can become a vicious cycle. Being overweight causes a patient pain, so they become more sedentary. Becoming more sedentary causes them to gain more weight, which leads to more pain.
- Osteoarthritis: Obese patients are more likely to develop arthritis, especially in the knee. Once a person has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee, managing their weight becomes the most important key to managing the arthritis and pain.
- Inflammation: American diets tend to have a lot of vegetable oils and other inflammatory foods in them. This can make the pain from inflammation even worse. In many cases, a physical therapist will prescribe a diet with more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods to help manage pain.
- Autoimmune Disorders: The combined total of various autoimmune disorder patients (such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis) now outnumber cancer patients in America by a wide margin. Autoimmune disorders are frequently linked directly to deficiencies in a patient’s diet.
- Diabetes: Diabetes and pre-diabetes pave the way for more serious conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and blindness. More than 90 percent of patients with diabetes also experience neuropathic pain. Diet and nutrition will play a key role in managing these conditions.
Nutrition and Physical Therapy
Using proper nutrition can prevent many types of disease and illness. The good news is that correcting your diet can also help to reverse the symptoms and pain of many conditions. Your physical therapist will not only help you to restore muscle and joint pain through exercise, but also through nutritional advice. During your first appointment with a physical therapist, addressing your dietary status and needs may be a key part of the process. In some cases, patients can also be referred to a dietitian.
You may be prescribed an entirely new diet to help reduce chronic aches and pains, lose weight, and improve your overall health. Here are two possible diets that a physical therapist might recommend for patients:
- Mediterranean Diet: The Mediterranean diet has been linked to the strikingly low rates of heart disease in certain Mediterranean countries. This diet features a lot of fish with Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also high in plant-based fats such as olive oils and nuts.
- DASH Diet: DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It’s a diet that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol, and which has a heavy emphasis on more fruits and vegetables. The DASH Diet can reduce hypertension and lower the risk of heart disease, while also helping patients to manage their weight.
Having a physical therapist work with you to manage your pain through exercise and diet can turn your life around. Physical therapists help hundreds of thousands of patients each year to improve their health and reduce aches and pains. If you’re ready to schedule your first appointment with a licensed physical therapist, call our office today!