If you're hurting or hobbling due to an injury, a recent surgery, or a chronic pain condition, you may be combing your area, looking for potential treatment options. Unfortunately, some of these options can sound worse than the problems they're meant to treat. Prescription painkillers, for instance, can lead to addiction or overdose, while joint fusion surgery for chronic pain issues may reduce your range of motion along with your pain. That's when it makes sense to consider a course of physical therapy. Here are three ways that this timed-tested form of care can help you improve your quality of life.

1. Injury and Surgery Rehabilitation

When you're on the mend from a major injury or soft tissue surgery, you risk an internal scarring problem known as adhesion. Adhesions are lumps of scar tissue that overgrow to the extent that they cause adjacent muscles or other tissues to stick together. You may also experience muscle atrophy after a long period of enforced bed rest. Physical therapy exercises can help you move those tissues safely and gently while they're healing to prevent adhesions. The right exercise routine can also target muscles that need strengthening, aiding you in your post-injury or post-surgery rehabilitation efforts.

2. Chronic Pain Management

Some kinds of pain just never seem to go away -- especially those linked to chronic problems such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, or neuralgia. But even if you can't get rid of the underlying cause of your pain, you can still use physical therapy to help you get the pain under control. A physical therapist may recommend exercises such as walking to keep inflamed joints as functional as possible. Stretching exercises can help you maximize your pain-free range of motion. Other physical therapy modalities such as heat therapy can warm and relax tight muscles, easing chronic soft tissue pain. Cold laser treatments, another feature of many physical therapy programs, can help damaged nerves heal themselves. You may even benefit from mindfulness exercises to reduce your anxiety since anxiety and pain perception are closely related.

3. Better Overall Wellness

If you're not hurting or injured, you might assume that physical therapy has nothing to offer you -- but you'd be wrong. As you grow older, you may find it harder and harder to maintain your muscle mass and get the right nutrition for your changing body. You may also be pursuing lifestyle practices that have a negative impact on everything from your blood pressure and weight to your immune system strength. A physical therapist can evaluate your current wellness level, nutrition, and lifestyle as well as recommend a new fitness regimen to help you create a healthier life for yourself.

From rehabilitation to preventative care, you might be amazed at the sheer range of benefits you can receive from physical therapy. Wherever you are in your life and state of health, you'll be doing yourself a favor by contacting your local physical therapist to learn more.