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Exercise Maintains and Improves Physical Condition
Patients with pain must exercise to maintain and improve their physical condition; however, pain limits ability and drains energy, making physical activity seem nearly impossible.
Physical therapists help patients overcome this burden, while helping build essential confidence and morale.
Good physical therapy involves setting goals that are realistic, measurable, and achievable in three separate domains:
- Physical: the exercise program, including number of exercises and repetitions, duration, and difficulty level;
- Functional: tasks of everyday living such as housework or hobbies;
- Social: pleasurable social activities (e.g., visiting friends, going to church or the movies, walking).
Relapse management is also essential. Pain inevitably relapses or worsens in episodes due to either a physical event or physical and psychological stresses that challenge coping mechanisms. A good physical therapist can help identify situations that are challenging and develop strategies to cope with them. Some procedures, including ice therapy, can be done by the patient; however, since pain rehabilitation is long and complex, a caring and skilled physical therapist is a crucial partner in the overall process.