7 Things to Know about Physical Therapy - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on October 06, 2015

7 Things to Know about Physical Therapy

Physical therapy helps you move better, improves mobility and flexibility and relieves pain.

Physical therapy helps you move better, improves
mobility and flexibility and relieves pain.

If you’ve never had physical therapy before, you may not know how exactly it works. There are several different types, which are used to treat a variety of injuries and conditions and also help to speed recovery before and after surgeries.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is physical therapy?

It’s a type of treatment when health issues make it hard for you to move around and complete your everyday tasks. It helps you move better, improves mobility and flexibility and relieves pain. Doctors may recommend physical therapy for injuries, to help with post-surgery recovery or for long-term health issues like arthritis. It may be used alone or combined with other treatments.

It Can Treat Existing Injuries and Prevent Future Ones

A physical therapist can help reduce your pain in soft tissues like muscles, tendons and ligaments. They also help you build up muscle strength, improve flexibility, function and range of motion. A physical therapist can also examine how you do an activity and suggest other ways of doing it that are less likely to cause an injury.

It’s Used to Ease Chronic Health Conditions.

When it comes to ongoing health conditions like arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and spinal stenosis, physical therapy can help live more easily. A physical therapist can do this through a program of range-of-motion, strengthening and endurance activities.

Some conditions like stroke, spinal cord injury or heart and lung issues, involve many body systems and can result in disability. These health conditions are typically treated by a team of health care professionals, including physical therapists. They help build up strength, endurance, range of motion and can teach you how to walk, take the stairs and get in and out of bed safely. If you need a wheelchair or walker, a physical therapist may get you that equipment and make sure you know how to use it.

Physical Therapy Involves Exercise

Physical therapy almost always incorporates exercise, including core exercises, weight lifting, stretching and walking. Your physical therapist may teach you an exercise program to do at home, which can speed up recovery and improve upon the progress you make with your therapist.

It Also Includes Manual Therapy

Exercise is a critical part of physical therapy, but it isn’t only exercise. A therapist may use manual therapy, which is also called bodywork. The goal of this treatment, which is performed mostly with the hands, includes decreasing pain, relaxation and increasing flexibility.

Manual therapy may include massage with pressure being applied to soft tissues to relax muscles, increase circulation and ease pain. It also includes mobilization – slow, measured movements that push, twist or pull bones and joints into position. This can also loosen tight tissues surrounding a joint to address alignment and flexibility. Manual therapy may also include manipulation, which is when pressure it applied to a joint.

You May Receive Other Treatments During Physical Therapy

If you have pain, swelling and inflammation from an injury or condition like arthritis, a physical therapist may use cold, ice and cooling lotions or sprays to relieve it. Depending on your pain or injury, a physical therapist may use heat to relax and heal your muscles by increasing blood circulation.

Your physical therapist may use ultrasound therapy, which consists of high-pitched sound waves that ease muscle spasms in addition to relaxing and warming muscles before an exercise, relieving pain and inflammation.

You’ll Learn a Few Things in Physical Therapy

The goal of your physical therapist is to treat your injury or condition, but also to make sure you know how to prevent a future injury and make sure your condition doesn’t worsen at home. You’ll learn how to safely perform daily tasks, protect your joints, avoid re-injury, use assistive devices like crutches, do exercises at home to help with your injury or condition and make your home safe in case of strength, balance or vision issues.

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