Last Updated on November 19, 2021 by melissanreynolds
I ask members in the studio regularly what topics they would like me to share about, “how to save money on physical therapies” was the top request on the last post where I asked for suggestions. So here I share how you can spend less money on physical treatments for chronic pain and strategies for decreasing your pain at the same time.
It might sound too good to be true, but stick with me. I make no bold claims, just simple, sustainable steps that I have personally worked on over the past several years.
What a whopper! As soon as I read the comments, I was formulating ideas. As a person who has tried physiotherapists (many different ones), Eastern practitioners, massage therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, personal trainers (who did not get it) and more, I know the costs involved here. We run a public system here in New Zealand so none of these private physical treatments are funded at all.
When I was at my worst I was going weekly, paying $50 or $60 a session to very little benefit. As I have finally put these things into place I have reduced to three or four weekly – this is a saving of $150-200 per month! That adds up!
These are the things that you can do to reduce the amount of treatments you need from physical therapists (physiotherapists, massage therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, etc.). If they are not necessarily easy, when are they ever?
The four ways of how to spend less on physical treatments for chronic pain
1. Remove or reduce the things that perpetuate the physical issue the physiotherapist/massage therapist/chiropractor etc. has to work on.
This might be a tough one as you may not be willing or able to do the things. For example, working full-time on a computer really exacerbates my neck and shoulders. I cannot, no matter the steps I take to mitigate it, experience less pain and keep doing it.
Questions to ask yourself:
Do you engage in something that aggravates your tricky spots? Is your bed and pillow correct for your needs? Are you breathing well? Ask your therapist about this next time you’re in.
Let yourself brainstorm as there might be lots of things that come up.
2. Work on the whole of life things
So a lot of our physical issues are related to our overall health. When the fibromyalgia was worse, I needed to see the physical therapists for in search of relief (which never came).
When I changed my entire life – reducing work hours, cutting my commute, moving to a warmer climate, learning to rest (and later meditate), gentle exercise (which for me meant cutting back!) etc. – the amount I needed to see the physiotherapist reduced.
Questions to ask yourself:
When thinking about my whole of life – what jumps out at me immediately as unhelpful in my health journey? What do I KNOW need to be worked on (but maybe I am ignoring because it’s hard)? What little steps can I take towards these big ones today?
3. Finding the right treatment
This alone halved how often I had to go. For severe, recurrent trigger points in my neck – for which I’ve spent at least $1500 per year for over 10 years trying to get some relief from – I have the right practitioner and treatment at last. It’s a physiotherapist who places acupuncture needles into the trigger point, leaves it to relax and then performs gentle traction and stretches. The amount of time and money I spent on massage therapists, physiotherapists, osteopathy and chiropractic is insane.
Questions to ask yourself:
Ask yourself, does that massage or chiropractic session actually help enough to justify the cost? Does the benefit hold long enough to be justifiable? Am I seeing the right kind of practitioner for the physical pain?
4. Learn to do things yourself
This might be the most important and the easiest! This is the thing that I am harping on about most of the time.
For me, this is copious amounts of stretching/yoga and meditation. It is precisely why I trained to be a yoga teacher – so I could use the tools better myself AND teach them to you. It is also about working, slowly, through the big things in the previous three sections.
You can learn about my favourite yoga tools – stretching, breathing, resting and guided rest in just 10 minutes a day. Because the foundation of improvement is learning to rest well and work gently with our body. It is FREE but please promise me you will do it.
Meditation is also helpful, especially guided meditations for pain relief and relaxation. You’ve heard me talk about this for years. Yoga Nidra guided meditation has saved my day most days since I have had children.
How does meditation help reduce your physical therapy bill? Because by calming the central nervous system and resting better, you reduce pain and tension. Stress and sleep/rest are VITAL in this fight against pain and fatigue.
I made a specific course sharing the tool of Yoga Nidra with you, you can enroll here.
I also use a Theracane trigger point massager and foam roller. You could self-massage or buy a personal massage aid. This post talks about inexpensive items I use to fight chronic pain.
Always ask a practitioner you see to give you suggestions for things you can do at home and DO them.
So these are my top four ways to spend less on physical treatments (and reduce your pain at the same time). Are you working on any of these areas? What is your favourite way to cope with physical pain?
I know there is a lot here. It is overwhelming. Pick one thing and give it a go. If yoga and/or meditation is that thing today, do come and join the community in the Yoga for the Chronic Life Facebook group to chat about it.