Many patients suffering from back injuries are confused as to the difference of physical therapy and pain medication, and which one is better. Truly, physical therapy and pain medication are similar in the sense that they both aim to alleviate or eradication pain experienced by the injured patient. However, each of these treatment modes has its own pros and cons that patients should consider before making a decision during treatment planning.
One of the advantages of physical therapy is that it is a non-invasive choice for managing pain caused by back injuries. Physical therapy involves scientifically-based techniques for pain management, such as massage, ultrasound, range of motion exercises and more. But what’s good about physical therapy is that it’s not only focused on pain management, but also centered on helping the patient to recover from his injury and perform his normal daily activities. In particular, rehabilitative physical therapy is ideal for a patient who is suffering from other health conditions aside from his back injury. These include sacral dysfunction, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, sciatica and other spinal injuries.
Another benefit of rehabilitative physical therapy is that you can choose among a variety of therapeutic modes according to your own preference and of course, the evaluation of your physician and physical therapist. Some of the well-known types of physical therapy for back injuries include aquatic (water) physical therapy, postural correction therapy, and body mechanics correction therapy. You may also undergo physical therapy at home via a home-oriented exercise program by your therapist.
Moving on with the cons, the fee you need to pay is one of the disadvantages of physical therapy for back injury. Another drawback is that there is no specific time as to when the physical therapy would be over, unlike when you take pain medications for back injuries that have an estimated period of effect in your body. The length of the physical therapy actually depends on your goals and determination to achieve the objectives and finish the activities under the therapy plan.
Pain medication’s main advantage is its wide variety. Depending on the severity of you condition, the doctor can give different pain meds for you. Pain medications include acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Ketoprofen. For severe pain due to back injury, the physician may also recommend narcotic pain medications. Another advantage of pain medication is the immediate ease of pain (short-acting pain killers).
One of the cons of pain medication for back injury, particularly NSAIDs, is that they may have bad interactions with other drugs. This means that you must be very careful when taking NSAIDs and other pain medications. A common disadvantage of pain medication, as compared to physical therapy, is that any event of underdosage or overdosage may cause mild to severe complications to patients, since drug therapy is an invasive treatment, while physical therapy is a non-invasive one. Also, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers with back injuries are not recommended to take pain medication unless indicated by the doctor.