Why Occupational Therapists are The Perfect Pain Management Specialists?

By Leanne Depa, OTR/L

Why Are Occupational Therapists The Perfect Specialists For Pain Management?

Occupational therapy unofficially started thousands of years ago with the knowledge that people needed to be engaged in activities to heal. It became official in the early 1900’s.  Occupational therapy was used in WWI and WWII to treat soldiers dealing with mental and physical challenges.  Since that time there have been great advancements in the field of occupational therapy and millions of people have benefited from treatment across their lifespan.

Occupational Therapists as Pain Management Specialists

1.Occupational therapists treat the whole person.

Occupational therapists are trained to not only look at the area of injury, but at the person as a whole. They are trained to ask questions and observe how pain affects all parts of your body.  They assess your ability to engage in everyday activities whether it is getting dressed, preparing a meal, participating in sports and hobbies, or performing your job. Their plan of treatment addresses all of these activities.

2.Occupational therapists are trained in pain control modalities.

Occupational therapists are trained alongside physical therapists in pain control modalities.  They are able to access the same training whether it is temperature modalities, cupping, electrical stimulation, neurofeedback, cranialsacral therapy, or myofacial release.  Some are also trained in the use of essential oils as part of their treatment.  In addition, they use therapeutic exercise to treat chronic pain as well as prevent it. 

3. Occupational therapists understand how the brain works.

Occupational therapists study neuroplasticity and sensory processing.  Chronic pain can be partially due to atypical sensory processing.  OT’s are the experts when it comes to sensory issues.  In addition, OT’s know how to re-educate the brain and calm overactive pain receptors.  

4.Occupational therapists specialize in ergonomics.

Occupational therapists have special training in ergonomics.  They are able to offer suggestions to adapt your environment to improve pain control.  In addition, they are able to help you problem solve performing activities in order to conserve energy, and reduce pain.


As you see, occupational therapists treat the entire body just as chiropractors and massage therapists do.  They can have the same modalities training as physical therapists, and they understand how the brain works.  Schedule an appointment with an occupational therapist to see how they can help you get back to living pain-free.

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