In the spring of 2016, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines questioning the safety and effectiveness of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic pain, the organization specifically mentioned exercise and physical therapy as treatment options that “may actually work better” than off-abused painkillers.
Since then, a steady stream of research, including meta-analysis and systematic reviews, continue to support safer and more natural strategies for managing chronic pain. Many reference another variable which, when altered, can help with chronic pain treatment.
That variable is nutrition.
“A lot of chronic pain is the result of chronic inflammation, and the evidence is quite strong that your diet can contribute to increased systemic inflammation,” said Dr. Fred Tabung, a visiting researcher with the Department of Nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “But, your diet is also one of the best ways to reduce it.”
Few will argue that movement and nutrition are – and should be – forever linked in the world of health care. And yet, many in the physical therapy profession still either overlook nutrition component or simply don’t feel comfortable addressing it for lack of expertise or training.
For a physical therapy clinic to become to go-to experts in chronic pain treatment and management, however, this must change.
Adding Nutrition to PT Treatment
That fact is, nutrition is a key component of many of the conditions we’re already treating as physical therapists – chronic conditions that can and do lead to debilitating pain in the lives of the patients.
Imagine, then, how much more effectively we as physical therapists could address the following conditions if we gain the knowledge and confidence needed to make functional nutrition a part of our treatment plans?
Obesity: As physical therapists, we’re great at creating an exercise program that can help an obese individual avoid pain and work through movement limitations in order to burn calories and strengthen their bodies. Imagine how much more effective this could be if we could also address nutrition?
Osteoarthritis:An issue also related to obesity, physical therapists are well-equipped to treat using movement-based interventions. At the same time, though, research has confirmed that changes in nutrition can also help improve and relieve pain.
Autoimmune Disease:Inflammation due to an unhealthy diet can worsen the effects of diseases such as Chron’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis Type 1 diabetes, and so on.
Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes:An undeniable relationship exists between diabetes and diet. Therefore, it would be a disservice to treat people living with these diseases without educating them about how nutrition can slow or prevent long-term complications like heart disease, kidney failure, neuropathic pain, etc.
These conditions and many others affect not just how a person can move today, tomorrow and into the future. How a person fuels this movement is also relevant, and a physical therapist should be involved in educating clients about how to best fuel their bodies in a way that benefits long-term, pain-free health.Nutrition is a key component of many of the conditions we’re already treating as physical therapists – chronic conditions that can and do lead to debilitating pain in the lives of the patients. Click To Tweet
Functional Nutrition at Your Clinic
As physical therapists, we owe it to our patients to provide them with big-picture solutions to their problems with pain, inflammation and chronic disease.
We tire, after all, of seeing patients continually struggling with pain and not making measurable improvements through and application of traditional treatments. We want to do more for our clients, helping them go through their lives without feeling pain or discomfort.
To accomplish this, however, will require that we include functional nutrition as part of our baseline services.As physical therapists, we owe it to our patients to provide them with big-picture solutions to their problems with pain, inflammation and chronic disease. Click To Tweet
To promote this natural integration, we at the Integrative Pain Institute offer physical therapists a fully accredited CEU certification titled “Functional Nutrition for Chronic Pain.” This course is designed to change the way you treat patients by helping them heal faster and become pain-free.
You will walk away with the confidence to:
- Integrate functional nutrition for pain and chronic disease into your practice.
- Identify the root cause of pain and assess patients from a functional perspective.
- Increase your referrals and generate high revenues for your practice.