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When do you need physical therapy?

Many people wonder if they are a candidate for physical therapy or if physical therapy can help their ailment. For physical therapists, however, this is an easy question to answer: Most people can benefit from physical therapy, whether their condition varies from a simple ankle sprain to a complex neurological disorder. You may benefit from physical therapy even if you are not injured. Physical therapists, as movement experts, can help you prevent injury or illness.

Physical therapists focus on relieving pain, promoting healing, restoring function and movement, and facilitation and adaptation associated with the injury. Therapy also focuses on ergonomics or body mechanic training, fitness, and wellness. So, as you can see, physical therapy can play a role in most people’s lives. Regardless of your age, if you have a problem with normal mobility, you may benefit from working with a physical therapist to help you return to optimal function.

A list of some of the most common reasons to seek physical therapy includes:

  • Neck pain and low back pain

  • Arthritis in one or multiple joints

  • Fractures and other orthopedic conditions

  • Bowel or bladder incontinence

  • Problems with balance or mobility

  • Chronic fatigue and weakness

  • Pre- and post-surgical conditioning and strengthening

  • Cancer recovery

  • Fitness and wellness education including weight loss and prevention of osteoporosis

  • Respiratory problems / poor cardiovascular endurance

  • Cardiac rehab

  • Knee, ankle and foot problems

  • Shoulder, arm, hand and wrist problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and shoulder tendonitis

  • Pre- and post-partum programs

  • Neuro-rehabilitation, such as post-stroke and spinal cord or head injury

  • Wound care such as diabetic wounds and non-healing traumatic or post-surgical wounds

  • Common sprains and muscle strains

  • Work-related injuries such as repetitive motion injuries, slip, and fall accidents and other trauma

  • Sports-related injuries

Is Physical Therapy Really Effective?

One common goal for physical therapy is to address the patients rehab needs by teaching concepts of self treatment to help manage symptoms and to help learn how avoid future injury. Physical therapy can be utilized and may benefit many people recovering from injuries and dysfunction while achieving long-term results. Physical therapy is more than just a powerful solution to pain management, it can also be cost effective too. You may avoid costly imaging, injections, extra doctor visits, unnecessary medication and surgery if you try physical therapy first. Did you know that visits in a typical therapy care plan cost less than a typical MRI?

How Do You Know if Physical Therapy is Working?

At your initial exam, physical therapy goals will be set with you to help guide your care plan. At follow up appointments, the physical therapist may guide you though exercises and activities, develop a home exercise plan, provide skilled manual therapy and continually provide you education and feedback to progress you toward achieving these goals. During physical therapy, you may also receive modalities, such as heat/ice, electric stimulation, cold laser, ultrasound, biofeedback, MPS if it is indicated to help with your condition. At certain visits, a re-exam/assessment will occur to recheck progress toward goals to gage how the therapy is progressing. The therapist will also take into consideration your feedback on what is working, and will ask what needs additional help in order to restore your health and function. Some factors that indicate therapy is working include, decreasing pain, reduced symptoms, increased muscles length, improving motion and function, changes in outcome scores, improving strength and endurance.

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