Physical Therapy Options
There are many types of treatment for injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Mild injuries are initially treated with over the counter remedies such as RICE (rest, ice compression, and elevation), NSAIDs, and analgesics, while more severe issues warrant injections or surgery. Another type of treatment is physical therapy which can be prescribed at any time during treatment.
Physical therapy, also called PT and physiotherapy, is a treatment option that helps patients recover from surgery or injury. It also helps to improve and regain function, range of motion, correct deformities, and reduce pain in an individual. Treatment can include massage, water, hot and cold therapy, exercises, and electrotherapy.
A physical therapist, or PT, is a state licensed health care professional who has received a graduate degree (master’s or clinical do
ctorate) from an accredited program for physical therapy. They are trained and educated to evaluate their patients on a case by case basis.
PT’s teach their patients how to help manage their conditions by formulating and developing a plan based on individual needs to promote long-term healing. Patients are expected to practice and do the exercises and movements shown by the therapist to restore mobility on their own.
While physical therapists can be found in physical rehabilitation centers, they also work at schools, hospitals, sports facilities, nursing homes, and private care.
The Initial Visit
The goal of a physical therapist is to make life easier for their patients. This could be anything from regaining use of a broken wrist to learning to walk on an artificial limb. Physical therapy can also help strengthen muscles from back and neck injuries, arthritis, COPD, vertigo, and other ailments that can benefit from treatment.
The PT will examine the patient and their medical history in order to assess the situation. They will then come up with a treatment plan that best fits with the patient’s level of activity, lifestyle, and limitations.
The first thing the PT will do is attempt to decrease pain and swelling using a variety of techniques, such as ultrasound therapy, heat, or ice. The next step is to work on mobility, which involves some type of exercise. PT’s utilize treadmills, weights, stretching, and core exercise. They also have a variety of manipulatives, such as balls, rope, hand weights, and pulleys. The physical therapist will also give you exercises to work on at home to continue to build strength and endurance. Occasionally, the treatment can cause pain and swelling, and it is important to let the therapist know when this occurs.
Physical therapists often specialize in different areas of care, and patients should seek out the therapist with experience in their type of injury. Specialties include: Cardiovascular and pulmonary, Sports, Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Geriatrics, Electrophysiology, Neurology, and Women’s Health. PT’s can also specialize in types of care and treatment, such as back and neck, wounds, cancer, cardiac rehabilitation, and orthopedics.
Physical therapy often needs a doctor’s referral to be covered by insurance, although laws are presently in flux to allow patients direct access to physical therapists.