Get to the Bottom of These Common Signs of Illness
With the COVID-19 pandemic, people are being more mindful than ever of their bodily symptoms. We are looking out for common immune system responses, and chills and body aches are two of the ways our immune systems communicate with us. The reason you get chills is that your body is squeezing and relaxing in an attempt to create heat and fight off an infection or illness. Chills are a sign of an infectious or inflammatory process. When the body encounters an infection, the immune system sends white blood cells to fight it off, which results in inflammation and feelings of stiffness and achiness.
Although these symptoms are not pleasant, the good news is that they are a sign of a functioning immune system. These symptoms are often accompanied by headaches, fever, runny nose, and a sore throat. It is actually your immune system and not the sickness that is causing muscle aches and chills. If your body aches, it certainly makes your daily life more difficult. Typically, the muscle aches and cold chills that come with sickness subside after a maximum of two weeks. However, after struggling through any infection, it is typical to feel weak and tired while your body recovers.
How Does Physical Therapy Help Patients Heal?
This is why, even though influenza is commonly associated with the respiratory system, myalgias are commonly experienced during sickness as well. Older adults are more likely to develop a disability after an influenza infection. A study conducted by the University of Connecticut Health Center found that influenza infection leads to an increase in the expression of muscle-degrading genes and a decrease in expression of muscle-building genes in the skeletal muscles in the legs.
In terms of COVID-19, which can also manifest as body aches and chills, the long-term effects are still being understood, as is the long-term healing process. However, recent research that was based on 128 former COVID-19 patients and will be presented at a virtual meeting of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases found that over half of COVID-19 patients have lasting fatigue. As physical therapists, we know that fatigue negatively impacts the body’s ability to repair tissues and cells. When the body does not have enough time to repair and recuperate, an individual can experience aches and pains more often.
If you come down with an illness and your body suffers the damages, know that it is not your fault, and there are steps you can take to be proactive about your own recovery. The good news is that physical therapy can help you regain your muscle strength, and it is widely recognized to provide powerful preventative care and wellness. Furthermore, physical therapy entails a wide range of exercises, and studies have shown that regular exercise can improve the immune system and overall well-being.
In fact, Julie DeYoung, a highly esteemed physical therapist, reported a study in which individuals who had never exercised began a three-month walking program. They walked daily for three months and measured the length of their recovery from an upper respiratory tract infection. The study found that those walking improved by 50% over the individuals in the study who did not exercise. In addition to helping boost your immune system, strength and conditioning programs from physical therapists can enrich your health in the following ways:
- Physical therapy can help you avoid injuries.
For individuals who are interested in preventing injury, strength training is often recommended. This is because it involves a wide range of movements throughout the muscles, which strengthen them, increase muscle mass, and make them less prone to injury. Physical therapy is great for those who want to be proactive about their health because it helps us to identify the source of body imbalances and risk factors that increase their chances of injury.
- Physical therapy promotes health and wellness.
One of the primary jobs of a physical therapist is to promote fitness and wellness by encouraging active living as well as providing early diagnoses of disease. Oftentimes, people want to be healthy, but they simply do not know where to begin. Physical therapy works to help them overcome those obstacles and start achieving the healthy lifestyle they deserve.
- Physical therapy can better prepare your body for surgery.
Many people have heard of rehabilitation therapy, like vestibular and balance rehabilitation, but we less commonly hear about pre-rehabilitation. This kind of therapy is facilitated before surgery. It helps the joints, ligaments, and muscles work together to become stronger and increase a patient’s chances of recovering from surgery. A study from the American Physical Therapy Association revealed that pre-operative physical therapy reduces post-operative care by as much as 29% in patients who have total knee or hip replacements.
- Physical therapy can improve your flexibility and balance.
As physical therapists, we are experts in targeting specific muscle groups that are tight or in need of specific attention. This helps you slowly increase our flexibility, which empowers you to exercise safely. A physical therapist can also treat balance problems by identifying their causes and creating individual treatment programs that cater to the specifics of those problems.
- Physical therapy can help to reduce risk of falling.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans, according to the National Council on Aging. One in four Americans age 65 and above fall every year, and over 2.8 million injuries are treated in emergency departments from falls annually. Even though it is not entirely possible to prevent falls, exercises that improve balance and strength training can decrease the risk. Physical therapists can help individuals reduce their risk of falling by assessing their individual risk, helping them eliminate possible fall hazards at home, educating them about the risk factors that might be linked to falling, and creating an exercise program that works to meet their body’s needs.
Physical therapy can play a major role in both preventing and recovering from the effects of illness. If you would like to learn more about how physical therapy can help you regain your strength, call ProFysio Physical Therapy at (732) 812-5200 or contact us online.