What You Need to Know Before Undergoing Physical Therapy

man undergoing physical therapy
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For certain conditions, physical therapy can help in any phase of healing. It can be a standalone option or support other forms of treatments. While some patients seek physical therapy on their own and others were referred to a physical therapist by their doctor, some people may even undergo physical therapy without any medical condition. So, should you go see a physical therapist? Here are some things you need to know first.

Common conditions physical therapy can treat

Depending on their specialty, physical therapists can treat various medical conditions. One of the most common conditions it can treat is musculoskeletal dysfunction, including back pain, joint disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, tendonitis, and rotator cuff tears.

People with neurological conditions benefit from physical therapy, too. It can treat stroke, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injuries. It also helps with heart and lung conditions, like cystic fibrosis, post-myocardial infarction, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.

For children, physical therapy treats developmental delays and improves their strength, balance, and coordination. It can also help kids with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

Benefits of physical therapy

It can minimize the need for opioids to manage pain, facilitate recovery from paralysis or stroke, speed up healing from injury or trauma, and improve mobility, balance and movement. Elderly people with age-related medical problems can also benefit from physical therapy.

Athletes also use physical therapy to strengthen specific parts of their body. This can help them maximize their performance, and keep their muscles healthy and less vulnerable to injury.

therapist stretching the patient

Types of physical therapy

There are a variety of therapies for different conditions, including the following.

  • Orthopedic. This focuses on treating injuries to muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and fascias. It can also supplement rehabilitation and recovery from orthopedic surgery. Orthopedic physical therapy usually involves strength training, mobility training, and joint mobilization.
  • Neurological. This type of physical therapy helps those with neurological disorders and conditions. It aims to treat paralysis, increase limb responsiveness, and reduce muscle atrophy.
  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation. It aims to help patients with heart and lung conditions or those who underwent surgical procedures involving their heart or lungs. It is meant to improve a patient’s physical endurance and stamina.
  • Pediatric. Physical therapists diagnose, treat, and manage illnesses affecting infants, children, and adolescents, particularly those that impact the musculoskeletal system.
  • Geriatric. Geriatric physical therapy helps the elderly who have conditions that impede mobility and physical function. Its aim is to restore their mobility, increase physical fitness, and reduce pain.
  • Vestibular therapy. Inner ear damage can lead to balancing problems, and vestibular therapy helps with that. It involves physical exercises and manual techniques that help restore balance and coordination.

What to expect

When you visit a physical therapist, you can expect to undergo a physical exam and evaluation, for which you need to detail your health history. You may also undergo tests to evaluate your posture, movement and flexibility, and the performance of your joints and muscles. Afterwards, you will receive a clinical diagnosis, prognosis, and a care plan for your treatment’s short-term and long-term goals. Even as you receive physical therapy from professionals, you will still need to follow self-management recommendations.

Most of the time, patients with existing medical conditions require physical therapy, and athletes choose to regularly undergo physical therapy to improve their performance. So before you decide to proceed with physical therapy, make sure to consult a doctor.

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