Physical Therapists (PTs) are highly trained professionals in the mechanics of movement and function of the body. With advanced education of 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.
The following methods are commonly used by physical therapists:
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.