If your physician has recently recommended participating in physical therapy, you might be wondering, “What physical therapy do I need to do?” You may also be wondering what exactly physical therapy, also known as physiotherapy, entails and how it can help you. That all of course depends on what type of injury is being treated and what your doctor or a licensed physical therapist recommends.
So, What Is Physical Therapy?
In simple terms, physical therapy is the practice of improving mobility and flexibility while providing pain relief through a variety of exercises and other treatments. These exercises help patients regain the strength to do everything from basic tasks, like climbing stairs and getting in and out of chairs, to more advanced movements, like running and playing sports.
Physical therapy can be done at a hospital, nursing home, patient’s home or an outpatient clinic. Recent research has shown certain ailments, like immobilizing back pain, are best treated with planned movements and exercises rather than rest.
What Injuries Require Physical Therapy?
Many patients undergo physical therapy to treat mobility issues and reduce pain in their muscles and joints. It’s best to consult with your doctor if you believe physical therapy could benefit you. But to get you started, here is a quick rundown of common afflictions physical therapy could help with:
- Back pain
- Sports injuries such as ligament tears
- Post-surgery rehabilitation
- Musculoskeletal problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Bone fractures
- And much more
What Does Physical Therapy Look Like?
This can vary greatly. When you attend physical therapy, typically a physical therapist will assess your needs and decide what type of program will best improve your condition. Moreover, the appointments are on the short side, about once a week or less and often focus on teaching you the methods so you can do them on your own later. This helps physical therapy act as a preventative measure in addition to being a method of treatment.
Common Physical Therapy Treatments
Here are just a handful of the common treatment methods and what types of issues they alleviate.
- Exercise – Physical therapy exercise programs use planned physical movements to work the muscles and improve strength and mobility, helping people recover from surgeries, back pain, acute trauma, sports injuries and so much more.
- Joint Manipulation – This refers to a physical therapist extending the afflicted joint to its furthest point and thrusting it beyond that point in order to “free up” the joint. Joint manipulation helps with musculoskeletal pain and improves range of motion.
- Massage Therapy – Otherwise known as soft tissue therapy, massage therapy can help increase blood flow and release tension and tightness in muscles to treat arthritis, tension headaches, immobilization of a limb, joint sprains and more.
- Lumbar Stabilization – Lumbar stabilization commonly is used to treat lower back pain. By stabilizing your core and lumbar area, muscles around your lower back, hips and abdominals strengthen and protect the spine from injury and pain.
- Pilates – This is a common exercise used for overall strengthening. In terms of physical therapy, Pilates can help with general pain relief, weight loss and even emotional and personal wellness, due to the exercise’s incorporation of mental focus.
- Ice and Heat Therapy – Also known as cryotherapy, ice and heat therapy treats muscle spasms, contusions and all sorts of acute and chronic muscle injuries and swelling. Ice and heat therapy works by cooling the muscles to help with swelling and then heating the muscles to help with pain relief and blood flow.
- Dry Needling – Dry needling, also known as acupuncture, works to relieve pain in areas like the back and joints and pain caused by chronic headaches. Dry needling works by relieving muscle trigger points and increasing blood flow to the injured area.
Advanced Physical Therapy
Physical therapy encompasses a wide variety of treatments and purposes. It can help someone who has been through a serious injury recover their strength, or simply help others stave off pain due to chronic orthopedic injuries. The caring and devoted physical therapists at Therapies of the Rockies Speech and Physical Therapy want to help you regain your strength and live pain free. Contact us online or by phone at 303-781-2181 and visit our new physical therapy facility in Englewood, Colorado.