3 Things You Should Know Before Visiting a Physical Therapist

Physical Therapist working on a patient

Physical therapy is a specialized healthcare discipline that focuses on diagnosing and treating movement disorders, injuries, and disabilities. Its primary objective is to improve the patient’s physical function and reduce pain through non-invasive, drug-free treatments

1. Why Visit a Physical Therapist?

The goal of physical therapy is to address the PAIN and the CAUSE of the pain. Our first priority is to help patients reduce their pain. This is accomplished through a variety of treatments including:

  • Gentle Exercise: Physical therapists use gentle exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and mobility, and to alleviate pain.
  • Soft Tissue Massage and Mobilization: This treatment helps loosen tight muscles and soft tissues and increases circulation to the affected area.
  • Supportive Taping: Physical therapists use taping techniques to support the injured area and to facilitate the healing process.
  • Patient Education: Education is a critical component of physical therapy. Patients learn about their injuries, how to manage pain, and how to prevent future injuries.
  • Electrical Stimulation: This treatment uses electrical currents to stimulate muscles and nerves to alleviate pain and improve muscle function.
  • Thermal Modalities: Heat and ice are used to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

2. What Will Physical Therapy Be Like?

Your first day of physical therapy will begin with a few minutes filling out medical and insurance forms. Next, your physical therapist will sit down with you in a treatment room where you will explain the details of your condition as well as your goals. Once your physical therapist has an understanding of your history, he or she will perform a physical exam to locate any mechanical dysfunction. He or she will explain their findings and recommend a personalized plan of care including:

  • Treatment Methods: The physical therapist will recommend treatment methods based on your diagnosis and goals.
  • Timeframe: The therapist will provide an estimated timeframe for your treatment, including how long it may take to achieve your goals.
  • Frequency of Therapy: The therapist will recommend how often you should attend therapy sessions.

Often, treatment will begin on your first visit in an effort to improve your condition as quickly as possible. Your first visit to physical therapy will take 60 to 90 minutes. At the end of your first visit, the remainder of your appointments will be scheduled according to your physical therapist’s recommended plan of care.

3. Is Physical Therapy a Long-Term Solution?

Once the pain is under control, the focus shifts to addressing the CAUSE so the problem will not return. This is based on a personalized treatment program of:

  • Clinical Exercises: Physical therapists prescribe exercises that target the specific muscles and movements that are causing the problem.
  • Hands-on Techniques: Physical therapists use manual therapy techniques to mobilize and manipulate soft tissues and joints to improve movement and reduce pain.
  • Patient Education: Education is a critical component of physical therapy. Patients learn about their injuries, how to manage pain, and how to prevent future injuries.
  • Home Exercises: Physical therapists provide home exercise programs to help patients continue their progress outside of the clinic.

Physical therapy can be a long-term solution for many patients. However, the length of treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the patient’s ability to comply with the recommended treatment plan. It’s essential to work closely with your physical therapist to achieve your goals and maintain your progress over time.


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