Inactivity Forced by Pandemic Can Worsen Chronic Pain, Other Conditions, Local Physical Therapists Warn

Regular physical therapy can prevent or improve the many chronic conditions that plague more than 117 million American adults, or about one in every two. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports more than 80 percent of adults and kids do not get enough physical activity, despite the known benefits.

Local physical therapists say the COVID-19 pandemic has made inactivity even more prevalent.

“We’re starting to see people become more comfortable with leaving home, but the pandemic has caused many individuals to become less active and more stationary,” said Stephanie Porter, physical therapist at Ohio Sports & Spine Institute. “This inactivity has negative implications on the average person’s health, but it’s even worse for someone who already suffers with a chronic condition.”

October is National Physical Therapy Month and Ohio Sports & Spine Institute’s therapy team is encouraging Mahoning Valley residents with chronic pain and other long-lasting health conditions to capitalize on the many benefits of physical therapy. Lack of movement can actually contribute to pain and worsen chronic conditions, therapists say.

Physical therapists create personalized plans of care that can help individuals manage their chronic conditions and improve mobility and function, which ultimately lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Endorphins released by the brain during exercise have been shown to reduce pain and improve mood.

“Physical therapy is not only helpful for those who suffer from chronic conditions, but it’s also highly beneficial for anyone with general aches and pains,” said Stephanie. “We’re seeing many patients who have tension headaches, neck and back pain, which can be a result of many things, including poor posture, lack of activity, stress, looking down at our screens for extended periods of time and other poor habits we’ve developed since the start of the pandemic.

COVID-19 has added more stress to many of our lives, said Stephanie.

“Those living with chronic conditions, including chronic pain, diabetes, heart conditions or other ailments, as well as those with general aches and pains, may be suffering more physically and mentally because of challenges brought on by COVID-19,” she added. “We’re doing everything we can to create a safe environment so that individuals can stay moving and feel their best … even in the midst of a pandemic.”

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