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What is Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a branch of rehabilitative healthcare that includes the evaluation, assessment, and treatment of individuals with limitations in functional mobility.

Physical therapists are trained to assess your condition and help you regain maximal functional mobility and independence. They use a variety of treatment modalities and techniques to help you move better and feel better.  Treatment is highly individualized, cutting edge, and research-based to return patients to their optimum functional level.

Often part of a rehabilitation team, physical therapists provide hands-on therapy, exercises and stretching maneuvers to patients with chronic conditions or serious injuries to ease pain and facilitate health and wellness.

Through focused home exercise plans and individual attention, these professionals help patients restore their range of motion, build strength, improve flexibility and manage pain as they recuperate.

Who benefits from Physical Therapy?

If you have an injury or illness that results in pain, physical impairment, limited movement, or a loss of function, a Physical Therapist can help.  Some patients are referred to physical therapy from his or her physician, but others seek therapy directly.

The benefits of physical therapy include:

  • Prevent the onset and or slow the progression of conditions resulting from injury, disease, and other causes
  • Pain management with reduced need for opioids
  • Avoiding surgery
  • Improved mobility and movement
  • Recovery from injury or trauma
  • Recovery from stroke or paralysis
  • Fall prevention
  • Improved balance
  • Management of age-related medical problems

Physical therapists treat people across the entire lifespan. Many therapists have certifications or specializations to treat a certain population, like children, the elderly, or athletes. Regardless of age, if you have impaired mobility, a physical therapy evaluation may be warranted to offer treatment and a strategy to improve function.

Physical Therapy and Safe Pain Management

No one wants to live in pain. But when it comes to treating pain, where do you turn?

Before you fill a prescription for opioids, consult with a physical therapist to discuss your options. “Given the substantial evidence gaps on opioids, uncertain benefits of long-term use and potential for serious harm, patient education and discussion before starting opioid therapy are critical so that patient preferences and values can be understood and used to inform clinical decisions,” the CDC states.

Seek Out Physical Therapy at the Onset of Pain

When pain begins, don’t try to self-diagnose or treat yourself. Physical therapy is the most conservative and least intrusive approach to managing your pain, which makes it a great first step. Not only can physical therapy successfully alleviate most pain, but it can also keep your pain from returning. A number of studies have even shown that PT can often be as effective as surgery for providing pain relief in some patients.

A physical therapist can help identify the injured tissue (bone, muscle, tendon), and can put together treatments to help promote healing and reduce stress on the injured area. Your PT will be able to offer advice on how you can safely return to your normal activities without further damaging the injured tissue. With the assistance of your physical therapist, you’ll be able to recover faster and minimize risk of future injury or illness.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help?

A physical therapist educates patients on how to prevent or manage their conditions so they will achieve long-term health benefits. A PT can help any individual who needs assistance in the following: pain management, avoiding an orthopedic surgery, improving mobility and movement, recouping from an injury or trauma, recovering from stroke or paralysis, fall prevention, improving balance, or management of age-related medical problems.

Having pain-free movement is crucial to your quality of life, and PTs can help identify and treat your movement problems. Your PT will design a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs, challenges, and goals. Waters Anchor physical therapists work every day to improve the health, mobility, and quality of life for their patients. For an effective treatment option, choose physical therapy to manage your pain.

6 Myths About Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is changing the way people overcome debilitating pain and lack of mobility. It is a conservative, cost-effective approach to restore function. However, common myths and misconceptions often discourage people from utilizing physical therapy. Tx:Team DPT, Megan, is here to debunk some of those myths.

Myth #1: Physical therapy is only used following an accident or an injury.

False. Physical therapy is often used to treat nagging pain due to sustained postures, abnormal movement patterns, and repetitive stress. Physical therapists are skilled at evaluating and diagnosing musculoskeletal issues and can be effective in treatment of these underlying causes, potentially preventing issues from becoming a bigger problem.

Myth #2: Physical therapy is painful.

Otherwise known as, “No pain, go gain,” this myth is partially false. Post-treatment soreness can occur; however, the goal of physical therapy is to mitigate pain and correct dysfunction. The physical therapist that you work with can adjust your treatment program, modify movements and exercises, and minimize discomfort to help you achieve your goals. The main goal of 95% of patients seen in the clinic is to decrease pain, so most of the time, that’s our goal too.

Myth #3: It hurts, so I shouldn’t move it.

Usually false. In some cases, it may be recommended that you rest and allow tissues to heal, so always check with your physical therapist first. But in most cases, the opposite is recommended. It’s usually more beneficial and will actually speed up recovery if you move the injured area. Most of the research out there suggests that early mobility leads to a faster recovery. The more you move, the better your outcomes. Or as we in the therapy world often say, “motion is lotion.”

Myth #4: I need to see my doctor/surgeon prior to going to physical therapy.

False. Patients have direct access to physical therapy. This means that you can see a physical therapist without a doctor’s prescription.  Some insurance plans require a prescription to utilize physical therapy services, so always check with your individual insurance provider. When accessing a Physical Therapist first, there are also the potential cost savings in co-pays, prescriptions, and imaging that could potentially be avoided.

Myth #5: Physical Therapy is just massage.

False. Physical Therapy is a multifaceted approach to restoring function which often includes, but is not limited to, manual techniques such as massage.  Neuromuscular re-education, exercise and activities, and the use of therapeutic modalities are also treatments used in your recovery. Your plan of care is specific to you based on your functional limitations and activity restrictions. The massage or manual  techniques are just one part of the comprehensive approach that may target specific tissues to complement other interventions within a treatment session.

Myth #6 I have to go to a clinic to be treated by a Physical Therapist. 

Not at all! With today’s technology, a patient is able to receive evaluation and treatment through telerehab platforms that enable virtual visits with your physical therapist from the comfort of your home.