Medical data suggests that the majority of Americans have contracted the COVID-19 virus by now, and while many of them have made full recoveries, a large portion of patients are still dealing with what are considered “long haul” symptoms. The most common long-term symptom of COVID-19 is lung damage, and that can make normally simple tasks like breathing, talking and catching your breath much more difficult.
So while long-haul COVID-19 symptoms may persist long after your body has fought the virus, know that you have options when it comes to treating these persistent lung issues. Below, we explain all the ways that physical therapy can help combat lung problems caused by COVID-19.
Physical Therapy For Lung Issues
COVID-19 can cause problems for your lungs as the infection can contribute to inflammation in the tiny air sacs inside your lung, known as alveoli. Long after the virus has been fought off by your body, inflammation of these tiny air sacs can linger, and that can make it harder for you to draw a deep breath. Many people with long-haul COVID-19 symptoms experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain and fatigue. Fortunately, physical therapy can help with all of these symptoms in a few different ways. Here’s how:
- Breathing Exercises – COVID-19 can weaken muscles related to the breathing process, including your diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Breathing exercises can work to slowly develop these muscle groups, making it a little easier to take a full and efficient breath.
- Posture Problems – If you have poor posture, it may be harder for your lungs to take a full breath because they are stressed by your body’s position. Your physical therapist can help you perform some posture correction techniques, or they can look for deficiencies that could be contributing to your posture problems. For example, back muscle weakness could contribute to slouching and poor posture, so your physical therapist can develop some muscle strengthening exercises to improve these muscles and your posture, which in turn will help your breathing.
- Energy Conservation Techniques – If movement is causing you to to suffer from shortness of breath, your physical therapist can help by showing you some ways to conserve energy and be more efficient with your movement. If you’re wasting less energy, you won’t tire as quickly. Assistive devices and mobility aids can also help you conserve more energy and move more efficiently, and we can teach you how to use these devices effectively.
- Prevents Functional Decline – You may assume that this has become your new normal and that you just have to learn to live with it, but if you’re not actively doing anything to improve your lung capacity and the overall health of your lungs, odds are your breathing issues will only continue to worsen. Early intervention has been shown to improve outcomes for a number of COVID-related health issues, so don’t delay in getting lung rehabilitation if breathing has become difficult after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
If your lung capacity or physical endurance just isn’t what it used to be prior to a COVID-19 diagnosis, reach out to an experienced physical therapist team to help restore some lung function. The team at OrthoRehab Specialists has done it for many patients in the past, and we can do the same for you. For more information, reach out to our team today at (612) 339-2041.
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