As the U.S. celebrates American Heart Month in February, health professionals and the mainstream media will no doubt use the designation as a soapbox for discussing heart disease prevention and cardiovascular health, which should include physical activity & nutrition.
Studies will be lauded, stats will be highlighted, and healthful tips will most certainly be dispensed. Yet through it all, two topics will remain front and center as the pillars of maintaining great cardio health: exercise and nutrition.
When it comes to wellness, both physical activity and diet together are critical in ensuring optimal health. Focusing on one without addressing the other can be futile.
Just consider how we look at heart disease prevention.
If a patient were to exercise every day, for instance, but continued to follow a diet high in processed foods, saturated fats, sodium, sugars and caffeine, they continue to risk facing heart disease in their future. They’re likely to face similar risks with a good diet but no physical activity.
One without the other simply doesn’t cut it.
The same holds true when we physical therapists attempt to treat our patients’ chronic pain.
Nutrition Considerations for Chronic Pain
As physical therapists, many of us strive to achieve credibility as the safest, most effective solution for the treatment and management of chronic pain within our local markets. Yet, our approach to earning this reputation has often been one-dimensional.
We offer musculoskeletal interventions that address the physical causes of pain or pain-inducing conditions (i.e., inflammation), but that’s often where we stop.
But, if we want to truly make the greatest, most positive impact on patients’ lives, our treatments must be more well-rounded. We need to include functional nutrition assistance as part of our services in order to achieve the most optimal outcomes.
Nutrition directly affects many of the conditions we as physical therapist treat every day. From ailments related to obesity and inactivity to most inflammatory diseases and pain, one’s diet plays a central role.
That said, the ability to assess a patient’s nutrition and eating habits – when mixed with our ability to help them improve musculoskeletal function and movement – can allow all physical therapists to treat patients more holistically.
This can lead to some near-immediate benefits:
- A speedier healing process that includes the management and reduction of chronic pain;
- Significantly improved outcomes and patient satisfaction; and
- Earned credibility as a go-to resource for effective and safe chronic pain treatments within your market.
Dr. Tatta’s simple and effective pain assessment tools. Quickly and easily assess pain so you can develop actionable solutions in less time.
Expanding Your Clinic’s Services
The fact is, there exists a critical gap in the general way we as physical therapists are trained to treat chronic pain. Yet, along with therapeutic exercise, manual therapy and patient education, the inclusion of physical activity and nutrition as part of your baseline services can help transform your clinic.
Offering such services will allow you to better address and treat more complex chronic pain patients, and it can trickle into other patient populations, as well.
Here at the Integrative Pain Science Institute, we work with physical therapists every day to ensure they have the tools to more fully treat chronic pain suffers using the principles of both physical therapy and functional nutrition.
We do this by offering information, courses and training in treating pain and inflammation through nutritional interventions – all with an eye on helping clinics further improve outcomes with their patients. Learn more about our nutrition and physical therapy course here: Functional Nutrition for Pain and Inflammation.