What comes to mind when we think about physical therapy? For many of us, it means exercises to help us recover after surgery or an injury. But there are lots of excellent reasons to choose physical therapy. It’s a tool in fighting chronic pain without medication and helps patients with chronic illnesses manage their conditions. From athletes looking to get back to the sports they love to seniors looking to prevent falls and improve quality of life as they age, PT makes sense for more people than you might think.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a non-invasive healthcare practice using movement and other techniques to improve patients’ quality of life. PT promotes healing, enhances function, and builds strength in patients young and old. Physical therapists have an in-depth understanding of the human body and how it moves. To practice, therapists must complete a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, which involves training in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and other disciplines, and pass a state licensing exam.
Do I Need Physical Therapy If I Haven’t Had Surgery?
If you’ve had surgery, especially an orthopaedic procedure, physical therapy is an essential part of the recovery process. However, post-surgical healing is far from the only reason patients turn to PT. It can help with everything from pulled muscles to sprains to fall prevention. Physical therapy can even help avoid surgery: we can treat many injuries that used to require surgery with PT. It can also help patients with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease build the strength they need to start a gentle exercise program. Here are some of the reasons doctors and patients choose PT:
- Recovery from surgery.
- Recovery from injury, including sprains, strains, and some muscle tears.
- Recovery from a stroke or heart attack.
- Pain management for everything from headaches to lower back pain.
- Managing chronic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.
- Building strength and improving balance in seniors to prevent falls
What Kinds of Therapies Can My Physical Therapy Practice Provide?
When we step into a physical therapy practice, we often see patients working on balance and range of motion exercises. We see patients using exercise bands and other equipment to rehabilitate an injured joint or build core strength. However, PT is not just about movement. It includes a range of techniques that play an increasing role in managing pain and chronic conditions. Today, doctors are turning to physical therapy in many cases where they might have prescribed opioids in the past. Successful pain management therapies include:
- Hands-on manual therapy: therapists use their hands to put pressure on muscle tissue and move joints to relieve pain.
- Heat or cold therapy: therapists often use cold therapy to reduce swelling and heat therapy to reduce muscle pain or stiffness.
- Dry Needling uses medical needles without medication to release trigger points in the muscles and relieve pain and stiffness.
- Ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to penetrate soft muscle tissue and ease the pain.
Do I Really Need PT– Or Can I Go It Alone?
The exercises and techniques used in physical therapy may seem simple. However, physical therapists train for years to understand how the human body moves and which methods work best for specific injuries and conditions. Therapists understand the relationship between practices and outcomes and create treatment plans that consider a wide range of factors. If you try to tackle treatment on your own, it could result in injury. Working with a therapist can help patients with chronic conditions build the strength to move safely toward an independent exercise program. A physical therapy practice also provides the accountability many patients need to make progress.
Am I A Good Candidate for Physical Therapy?
If you fall into one of these categories, physical therapy may be a perfect fit:
- Recovering from an injury or surgery.
- Looking to treat an injury without surgery.
- A senior working to build and maintain strength and prevent falls.
- A patient with a chronic condition looking to improve quality of life.
- Seeking alternatives to medications for treating chronic pain.
The first step is having a conversation with your orthopaedist or primary care provider about how physical therapy can benefit you. At Countryside Orthopaedics & Physical Therapy, our physicians and PAs can help you evaluate your condition and goals and work with our skilled physical therapy team to create a recovery/pain management plan that’s just right for you. Our in-house physical therapy program allows us to offer a complete toolkit for optimal healing and recovery.