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Physical therapy eases pain, promotes quality of life

If you have surgery to replace a joint or repair a torn ligament, you probably know that physical therapy will be part of your rehabilitation process. But did you know that a physical therapist can also help manage chronic pain, encourage healthy aging, and diagnose and treat movement problems?

“Many people don’t realize the array of services physical therapy can provide,” said Andrea Lutz, doctor of physical therapy and Community HealthCare System Rehabilitation and Fitness Manager.

Patients often think they need to have experienced an injury or surgery to explore the benefits of physical therapy, or PT, but the reality is that PT can help solve individual problems that become a barrier to quality of life and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  

“Each patient is evaluated and treated differently according to personal goals,” Lutz said. “Physical therapy is never a one-size-fits-all approach, and we always work to educate patients so they know how to help themselves,” she said.

Managing chronic pain is a major benefit of PT. In northeast Kansas, many people are employed in agriculture or pursue outdoor recreation and hobbies such as yard work and gardening. Years of manual labor, even if it’s for fun, can result in chronic aches and pains. According to Lutz, PT can help by providing personalized, specific exercises for a patient’s condition; can provide skills and strategies to manage and redirect pain; can correct posture ad incorporate ergonomic principles into daily activities, and more.

“From hot/cold therapy or massage to electrical stimulation or ultrasound, we have many options available to help patients manage pain. Designing a personal exercise plan and learning how to move properly, such as by squatting more instead of bending over to manage lower back pain, is a big part of what we can do to help patients avoid pain and prescription pain medications,” Lutz said.

Another service that Community HealthCare System, or CHCS, offers is called dry needling. Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying trigger points and muscular and connective tissues for the management of neuro-musculoskeletal pain and movement problems. Like other PT disciplines and approaches, it requires special certification.

“All CHCS physical therapists pursue certifications in their areas of specialty. In addition to dry needling, we have therapists on staff who specialize in helping patients with Parkinson’s disease or other neurological impairments, musculoskeletal problems in the back and neck, and more,” Lutz said.

Maribelle Collado has worked for CHCS in the Onaga PT department for 26 years. She works with patients who suffer from pain or general weakness and who are recovering from joint repair surgeries, plus provides dry needling therapy.

“The best part of my job is seeing patients make progress and live with less pain,” Collado said. 

As we age, aches, pains, and injuries or other health problems can hamper movement, which in turn causes more declines in health.

“We look to help patients maintain or regain movement so they can boost overall health and wellness and maintain quality of life. We love hearing stories from grandparents who can get on the floor and play with grandchildren again, or gardeners who can get out in the yard and do what they love again,” Collado said.

Learn more about physical therapy at CHCS locations.


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