Articles previously featured on Wanna Towel


ALEXANDRIA, VA, Jan 13, 2005 ¾ In light of recent reports about the risk of heart attack and stroke with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain and inflammation, patients may wish to consider the benefits of physical therapist intervention for pain relief from certain conditions, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

“Many people are looking for alternatives to the sole use of medication to deal with painful conditions,” said APTA President Ben F Massey, Jr, PT, MA. “Pain medication may help you get through periods of severe pain, but it won’t always help you eliminate the underlying cause of some kinds of pain.  For many individuals, it is the underlying causes like poor posture and alignment, weak and/or inflexible muscles, or tight joint structures that actually exacerbate the painful condition,” Massey explained. “A physical therapist will perform a complete musculoskeletal examination and design an individualized treatment program to reduce pain and improve function.”  

There are many types of pain and inflammation that can be reduced by physical therapist intervention. For example, chronic pain in the back, shoulder, or knee or pain associated with certain degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis, can be reduced with the appropriate combination of medication and exercise. “The physical therapist, in collaboration with the patient and the patient’s physician, can help the patient manage his or her health over the long term,” explained Massey.

For pain of a "mechanical" origin such as back, shoulder, or knee pain, physical therapist intervention may include therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, and functional training. “The goal of the physical therapist is to reduce pain, improve your ability to perform daily activities, and help the individual return to doing the things he or she likes to do,” said Massey. “It is also true that patients may unknowingly contribute to their own pain, such as by exercising improperly or with poor posture that physical therapists can identify and help to correct.”  Massey added, “Through the use of home programs designed to fit the individual’s needs, the physical therapist can efficiently progress the individual’s rehabilitation and teach the patient how to prevent a recurrence of the original condition.”

For osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease of the cartilage and bone, physical therapist intervention may include, exercises for strength, flexibility, range of motion, and the use of devices designed to rest or support the joint such as orthotics or splints.


ALEXANDRIA, VA, November 9, 2004 - In addition to being emotionally taxing, the holiday season can take a physical toll, says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Annual rituals such as shopping 'til you drop and lifting presents and heavy boxes can contribute to neck, shoulder, and back injuries.

APTA recommends taking precautions ¾ from maintaining your balance by distributing the weight of shopping bags equally on both sides of your body to lifting boxes by using the legs instead of the back ¾ in order to keep aches or even injuries from putting a damper on the holiday spirit.

APTA member Kendra Harrington, PT, MS, from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, suggests taking the proper precautions to avoid ruining a festive season. "Proper body mechanics can help prevent muscle and joint discomfort, " she says.


  • Test an object’s weight before you lift by pushing it with your foot.
  • When you lift, keep feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees.
  • When you lift, keep feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees. Lift with your legs, not with your back. Stand close to the object, bend your legs, keep your back straight, and lift.
  • If a back injury does occur, seek professional consultation from a physical therapist. What starts as a minor problem can become a recurrent problem without early intervention.

Lifting Safely
Bend your knees and keep the object close to your body. Lift with your legs, not with your back and carry heavy objects waist-high.

Shopping Without Dropping

  • Distribute the weight of shopping bags equally on both sides of your body.
  • Consider using a fanny-pack or small backpack.
  • Wear comfortable shoes; carrying packages while wearing high heels on hard surfaces can contribute to foot and ankle injuries.
  • Don’t lug overstuffed shopping bags for extended periods.

Right Way

Maintain correct posture by balancing the load evenly on both sides of your body.

Wrong Way
Overloading one side of your body may cause muscle and joint discomfort.

The American Physical Therapy Association is a national professional organization representing more than 66,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapy practice, research, and education.

Content and images used with permission from the American Phyical Therapy Association