Ways Physical Therapy Can Help You
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
If you are like most people, you may have a vague idea of what physical therapy is and why it is an important part of healthcare. What you may not know is that no matter what is going on in your life or with your health, physical therapy can most likely help!
A very common preconception is that physical therapy is for athletes or for those recovering from orthopedic surgery. While PT is appropriate in both of these scenarios, it can also be useful in a variety of other situations such as pain management. In this guide, we'll tell you how can physical therapy help, including its use cases and benefits.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy treats individuals who have limited functional mobility in some part of their body. Recovery is achieved through evaluation, assessment, and treatment. The goal is maximal function.
Physical therapy services are provided by physical therapists, who are professionals licensed by the state in which they work. Physical therapists (or PTs, as they are commonly called) are required to have a master's degree or a clinical doctorate degree from an accredited institution and must sit for a licensing exam to practice.
What is Physical Therapy Used For?
Physical therapists are medical professionals who have gone through years of training and are licensed to treat patients. A physical therapist will not just do exercises with you. They can also help with pain management and preventative care.
Patients may be referred to physical therapist (PT) providers for many reasons. For example, PT professionals can treat people who have been affected by the following:
Motor vehicle accidents
Chronic disorders (e.g., arthritis)
Acts of violence
As diverse as these issues are, they have one thing in common: people recovering from all of them can benefit from physical therapy. A physical therapist uses a variety of treatment modalities to manage pain, improve movement and increase strength and flexibility.
When patients are committed to working hard on their treatment plan, it is often possible to avoid surgery altogether. If a patient has already had surgery, a physical therapy plan can help that patient heal better. Even if a condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, is incurable, physical therapy can help significantly by reducing pain and improving function. This allows patients to get through their daily activities with minimal strain.
Common Conditions Physical therapy Can Treat
While prominent examples might make you think physical therapists are primarily focused on knee ligaments and rotator cuffs, their training covers much more.
Here are the most common conditions that physical therapists can treat:
Vertigo/dizziness: The most common form of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is an inner ear problem that causes short periods of this spinning sensation when the head is moved in certain positions. When treated by a PT, positional vertigo can be eliminated completely, so you do not have to live with it.
Concussion: There is a balance of returning to normal activities with symptom management that helps the athlete to return to full function. Physical therapists play an important role in balance and agility training and treat vertigo as well as headaches associated with it.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD): Jaw pain can be triggered by multiple causes. A PT can address postural issues, provide treatment to align the joint, as well as improve joint mobility to reduce pain.
Rotator cuff strain/ repair: Physicians tend to provide conservative management with physical therapy for rotator cuff strain patients since there is evidence that strengthening and maintaining flexibility heals the muscle tissue faster. We also treat patients after surgery to help them regain strength and range of motion to enable them to return to their daily function.
Low back pain: There is enough evidence demonstrating that physical therapy can be an effective alternative—and with much less risk than surgery and long-term use of prescription medications. Even surgeons want to try conservation management first before recommending invasive techniques.
Total knee and hip replacements: Physical therapy right after any replacement surgery is an important aspect that even the surgeons will attest to. We provide individual care to all our postoperative patients and work very closely with their surgeons to make sure we keep our patients on track.
Chronic knee pain and arthritis: The key to improving lifestyle in arthritic patients is to maintain joint mobility and improve muscle strength. Physical therapists provide individualized exercise programs to this patient population in order to achieve those goals.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is beneficial to those who have pain and restricted mobility or movement in the spine, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, pelvis, knee, ankle, or foot. PT can help increase your strength, mobility, and flexibility and improve your posture. Here are the primary benefits of PT.
Physical therapy can also help improve your mobility and range of motion. Physical therapists will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan to help you regain as much mobility and range of motion as possible. This can be helpful for people who have suffered an injury or who have a chronic condition that affects their mobility.
If you're having trouble standing, walking, or moving—no matter your age—physical therapy can help. Stretching and strengthening exercises help restore your ability to move. Physical therapists can properly fit individuals with a cane, crutches, or any other assistive device or assess for orthotic prescription. They customize an individualized care plan by whichever activity that is important to an individual's life can be practiced and adapted to ensure maximal performance and safety.
One of the main benefits of physical therapy is that it can help reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapists have a variety of techniques and exercises they can use to help you get relief from your pain. They may also prescribe medications or other treatments to help you manage your pain.
Many patients who seek physical therapy have been suffering from their conditions for an extended period of time. This is especially true when they are unsure of the underlying causes of their symptoms. Through physical therapy, they can begin to live without chronic discomfort. Instead of constantly focusing on their pain or lack of mobility, they can freely move around and begin to explore more physical activities.
Therapeutic exercise is one of the best methods to prevent different pathologies related to movement. In turn, it significantly favors the recovery of an injury and motor rehabilitation after trauma. Through this, the patient is encouraged to resume their daily routine.
After suffering from a cardiovascular condition such as a stroke, the patient may need to relearn skills and movements that they have lost if the brain was affected, helping to regain quality of life and, above all, motor independence. Physical activities include different types of exercises and therapies, from technology-assisted to cognitive and emotional.
To avoid extreme acts such as surgeries, physical therapy provides a more conservative option with the use of different types of systems and devices for the rehabilitation and healing of ailments that bind the locomotive system. And it can help patients who have been through surgery recently, assisting surgeons and doctors with the postoperative issues.
Physical, Mental, and Social Health
Physical therapy can also help improve your cognitive function. Therapists will often prescribe exercises that challenge your thinking skills and help keep your mind active. This can be helpful for people who are at risk of developing conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Improve Balance and Prevent Falling Over
Are you having trouble with your balance and coordination? Physical therapy can help improve these skills. A specialist will work with you to develop exercises that challenge your balance and coordination. This can be helpful for people who are at risk of falls or who have a condition that affects their balance.
A physical therapy program can also help improve postural balance and control, especially in the older population, and in turn decrease and control the risk of falls. These training protocols are often specific to treat balance dynamically and statically, with or without visual references.
Older people are often victims of such events more than other age groups, but there are other types as well. To decrease this trend, as well as the risk factors, you must work on the "motor reaction." This capability depends on the perception of environmental stimuli and the speed and accuracy in responding to such stimuli.
Increased Athletic Performance
Athletes can use physical therapy to recover from sports-related injuries and improve their endurance. By ensuring their bodies are reaching their full potential, they can improve control over their movements, leading to better performance. Along with this, athletes can use physical therapy to avoid injury, which means they can get more playing time. Since high-performing athletes are more prone to injury, physical therapy is especially useful for this group.
When to See a Physical Therapist
Various pains and aches are part of life, as are injuries and ailments. It's normal to schedule an appointment with a doctor when something doesn't feel right, but it gets more complicated when we ask ourselves, "when to see a physical therapist"?
It can get confusing to understand whether that sore back or minor wrist injury warrants a visit or not. However, physical therapists can help prevent and treat additional impairments, speed up healing and recovery, and help you go back to living a full life without discomfort or pain.
Physical therapy is usually most appropriate when dealing with a musculoskeletal issue, meaning your injury or condition affects muscles, ligaments, tendons, or bones. Let's go into more detail and look at specific situations that warrant an appointment with a PT.
When people ask us, "how do I know if I need physical therapy?" we always ask whether they experience lingering pain and for how long.
While it's okay to feel some pain or discomfort after a workout or physical labor, you may want to see a physical therapist if the pain persists longer than three days (and after icing the area).
The same goes after experiencing an injury - sometimes the symptoms go away after resting and taking some time off any activities - but if they don't, make that appointment.
Dull and recurring pain
When is physical therapy needed? Any dull and recurring pain that lasts for months or years and is related to chronic or undiagnosed conditions and injuries can become familiar, but it doesn't mean you should ignore them.
People tend to "get used to" the pain and discomfort, but a physical therapist can help you sort out the problem altogether and help restore your mobility and freedom.
Physical therapy is extremely beneficial when recovering from injuries and traumas of muscles, bones, ligaments, etc.
After your initial treatment program is over, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist to discuss an individual recovery plan to ensure you heal properly and quickly.
Medication doesn't work
One of the times when to get physical therapy is when your pain medications don't work, and you're experiencing pain. Physical therapy will address the underlying issue (even a minor one) and help manage your pain and discomfort.
Changes in your body
Nobody knows our bodies better than ourselves, so if you notice any visible changes and are experiencing pain out of a sudden, you may benefit from working with a physical therapist.
The changes include reduced mobility, stiffness, things like a swollen knee or wrist, difficulty performing your daily tasks or exercises, etc. The sooner you schedule your appointment, the sooner a professional can address your issues and create an individual treatment plan.
If you're recovering after a surgery or injury, physical therapy can help during the healing process.
Such surgeries include microdiscectomy, ACL reconstruction, arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, etc. The rehabilitation process and how you approach it will determine how long it will take to achieve your goals and best health.
Overall, you can start seeing a physical therapist as soon as your doctor clears you for it, and it may take from 2 to 12 months to reach your recovery goals, so don't put it off!
While all the reasons mentioned above are legitimate, you do not need to have an injury, condition, or surgery to see and benefit from a visit with a physical therapist.
They can also help you assess your fitness level, mobility, minor aches, or discomforts and help create an exercise program to improve your health or get back to exercising safely and efficiently.
Understanding your body, how it works and how to improve can be very empowering and helpful to feel as healthy as possible.
Physical therapists will do a thorough assessment, recommend and demonstrate exercises, and use other wellbeing modalities such as massages.
Pregnancy is also an excellent time to see a PT.
How to Get Physical Therapy Help
The physical therapists at Natural Care Chiropractic aim to help people see that physical therapy is a necessary and tremendously helpful part of both treating various injuries and conditions, recovering from surgeries and traumas as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Our team of board-certified physicians and licensed physical therapists create a personalized, comprehensive plan of care tailored to your specific needs and with total recovery in mind. We develop a thorough understanding of your condition, analyze your physical data and establish the best rehabilitation program for you.
Our team provides perfect physical therapy regimen plans for most medical situations, whether you've been injured on the field, are recovering from surgery or simply twisted your back while gardening, or have experienced a sports injury, trauma after a car accident, stroke, or another debilitating injury.
Schedule an appointment today so that we can start your recovery journey!