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What is Physical Therapy?

What is Physical Therapy

Physical Therapists (PTs) are highly trained professionals in the mechanics of movement and function of the body. With advanced education in the musculoskeletal system, they are great diagnosticians of impairments that can cause pain or lead to injury.

Through evaluative tests and measures, they are able to pinpoint the area of the body (usually soft tissues including the muscles, tendons, and ligaments) that needs conditioning to improve strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination, and balance in order to eliminate the pain-causing problem and improve or restore function and range of motion.

Oftentimes, physical therapists can help a patient avoid painful and expensive surgical procedures. Therefore, they are a great first contact for individuals suffering from severe to mild pain. After evaluation, however, they may suggest you see a doctor for further tests such as x-rays or MRIs. If surgery is the best option, they are experts at helping individuals recover from surgeries such as joint replacements and tendon/ligament repairs. Most surgeons will tell you that surgery followed by physical therapy will render the best possible outcome for your surgical procedure.

There are several specialties of physical therapy including orthopedics, sports, neurology, pediatric, aquatic, and hand therapy. Physical therapists can also specialize in certain types of care such as back and neck pain, cardiac rehabilitation, wound care, and cancer-related problems.

Doctors may recommend physical therapy for conditions such as arthritis, common injuries like neck pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoporosis, TMJ dysfunction, vertigo, headaches, injury from exercises, urinary incontinence or pelvic pain, lymphatic swelling, Parkinson’s disease, strokes, cerebral palsy, etc.

You will want to look for a therapist who has experience with your particular health problem.

How does physical therapy work?

“Physical therapy” and “physical therapy practice” refer to the identification of physical impairment, movement-related functional limitation, or balance disorder that results from injury, congenital or acquired disability, or other physical dysfunction, according to the State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. 

Treatment of physical impairments or movement-related functional limitations often includes but is not limited to: the alleviation of pain, physical impairment, and movement-related functional limitation by therapeutic intervention. Identification of your impairment is done through examination, evaluation, and diagnosis of the physical impairment or movement-related functional limitation and the establishment of a prognosis (timeline of outcomes).

Some examples of therapeutic intervention include…

Therapy Sessions

Let’s start with when you first arrive at your therapy session. In many cases, your PT may use a modality, such as heat, an active warm-up on/off a machine, or another manual therapy method to start your session. You are always welcome to ask questions about your symptoms, pain management, pathology, or whether you need to check on how well your at-home exercise program is working. 

Throughout the session, your PT will use the interventions and/or flowsheet that he or she designed for you. These are targeted workouts designed to help you get closer to your individual objectives, which might be to improve your strength, flexibility, range of motion, endurance, balance, coordination, or body mechanics. 

Physical therapists have direct control over physical therapy assistants. They frequently help with equipment cleaning and preparation for the next patient, which greatly improves clinic cleanliness, efficiency, and patient flow. Your physical therapist will advise you on how to execute these exercises properly, but an assistant may direct you to the appropriate section of equipment. 

Depending on the pathology you are being treated for, your physical therapist or doctor may advise using heat, cold, or modalities such as traction or electrical stimulation to round up your session.

Why does physical therapy need more time than I anticipated to achieve my goals?

The length of time you have had your symptoms relative to when you were first assessed for physical therapy is one frequent factor that might impact how quickly you recover. If you have had your symptoms longer than 3 months, this can be considered chronic pain and possibly take you longer to see results. Physical therapy has been shown to be beneficial in enhancing the quality of life for those who are coping with physical problems, regardless of how long you have had your symptoms. 

You might not maintain a regular diet, water, and sleep schedule; you might have a recent or prior medical history that contains co-morbidities that can hinder your development.

A lack of consistency in terms of diet, hydration, and sleep quality might also slow down your development. Even so, you have a great deal of influence over these things; all that’s left is for you to take the appropriate action to quicken your development.

Physical Therapy Pain

Although everyone experiences pain at some point in their lives, everyone experiences and perceives pain extremely differently. “No pain, no gain” and “PT stands for physical torture, right?” are frequent quotes from patients. We think this gives prospective patients who want to attempt physical therapy a bad impression. 

Patients frequently choose physical therapy as a kind of treatment because of pain. In this situation, and particularly in situations after surgery, patients will first appear with complaints of pain that is restricting their quality of life and aim to eliminate the pain as part of their functional end performance. 

Physical therapists frequently inform their patients about their pain by educating them about the science of pain and the relationship between the brain and body. Patients can then understand that pain can be managed effectively through education and proactive pain management techniques like exercise! 

For the physical therapist to make the proper changes for the patient’s experience, it is critical that the patient continuously convey the amount of pain and discomfort they are feeling while undergoing intervention or having a manual technique done on them.

The following methods are commonly used by physical therapists:

Manual Therapy


What is Physical Therapy? Desert Edge Physical Therapy is here for you!

Because of their specialized knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and body mechanics, physical therapists are great partners for you in reaching your goals of improved function and decreased pain. Their goal is to get you moving so you can enjoy your life. They help you discover why you are in pain and develop a plan for your recovery. Your success depends upon the information they provide, your attendance at your appointments, and your participation in your home exercise program.

published on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022