According to the Americal Physical Therapy Association (APTA) , "the role of the physical therapist to screen for and provide information on diet and nutritional issues to patients, clients, and the community within the scope of physical therapist practice." (House of Delegates P06-15-22-17)
Diet and nutrition are key components of many conditions that are managed by physical therapists. Poor nutrition and less optimal diets can directly affect recovery and function.
One situation that I see too often in my practice is when someone comes to us with the hopes of overcoming and decreasing chronic pain. Immediately we start with the mechanical changes that need to take place, but quickly I realize there is much more to these cases. Majority of the time, these people need lifestyle changes. The most important lifestyle change that will directly affect this person’s outcomes is diet and nutrition.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), educating patients about the effects of nutrition on health and coaching them to make positive dietary changes is “one of the most useful tools doctors have to improve overall health outcomes in their patients and specifically reduce inflammation”- yet in my opinion it’s typically the last piece to be addressed.
Nutritional screening and strategies can make a difference in a few conditions associated with pain that we often see in our practice:
Inflammation. Many inflammatory foods, including vegetable oils, populate the Western diet. Most studies show a traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in healthy fatty acids, fruits, vegetables and fiber, provides anti-inflammatory benefits. Among specific conditions, studies show a Mediterranean diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants provide anti-inflammatory effects that benefit individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.
Obesity. As we all know, a vicious cycle ensues as obesity contributes to numerous chronic pain conditions, and the pain in turn can lead to sedentary behavior… which increases obesity. Weight loss MUST become an integral piece of overall pain rehabilitation.
Osteoarthritis (OA). Studies have shown a relationship between pain and food intake among overweight and obese patients with OA. Fortunately, obesity is the most modifiable risk factor for knee OA. Of course, pain management is also crucial in reducing OA symptoms.
If you are struggling with any of these conditions and are interested in how the multifaceted approach provided by Dynamic Edge Physiotherapy can help, please call the office and schedule an appointment.