What is Physical Therapy?

After a long day at work, you take your dog out for a short jog and a game of fetch at the dog park. As you send out the tennis ball for a long throw, you feel a twinge in your hip. You rub the area as you try to decide if you can make the run home and wonder: “Should I put ice on it? Could I have injured myself? Will this impact my daily activities?”

A physical therapist can help you answer these questions and not only help to alleviate pain, but also to improve your overall physical function. Physical therapy aims to address illnesses or injuries that limit movement and the ability to perform activities in daily life. Physical therapists help patients using specific exercises, manual therapy, devices, education, heat, cold, and other tools to help patients recover from injury, avoid surgery, and improve performance. Seniors often use physical therapy to maintain independence and mobility.

Physical therapy is a medical treatment that restores functional movements including standing, walking, and using your body to perform a task. Physical therapy is an effective way to treat pain stemming from medical conditions, improve balance, and improve mobility. Physical therapy can also be used to help you move properly, perform tasks more effectively, and avoid injury. The following conditions are just a sample of the types of issues a physical therapist can help address:

Back and neck pain
Arm and shoulder pain
Leg and knee pain
Foot and ankle injuries
Sports injuries
Work injuries
Orthopedic injuries
Decreased range of motion
Post-surgical conditions
Acute and chronic conditions

A physical therapist can diagnose a patient based on movement pattern impairments in order to tailor a treatment plan to address specific issues. Your physical therapist has been trained to know how the body moves and how different parts of your body integrate with one another to create movement. A physical therapist also understands how other systems – cardiovascular, neurological, and endocrine systems – can affect movement. That knowledge can help to address what is causing your pain.

Physical therapy is about more than just pain. Physical therapy can be used to prevent complications after surgery, or restore movement after an injury, but it can also be an important part of preventing the need for surgery and improving your overall well-being. There are many patients who use physical therapy to prevent overuse injuries, improve balance to prevent falls, or enhance performance at work or in sports.

The exercises prescribed by a physical therapist target muscles and joints to help improve strength, increase flexibility, and ensure correct movement, which can in turn prevent improper motion that may result in pain or injury. A large majority of patient complaints about back pain stem from poor posture, which is often due to weak muscles. The smaller, less used muscles in your body need exercise to support good posture and correct movement. Your physical therapist can help you target and strengthen those muscles and relieve pain. 

Is physical therapy right for you? Nearly everyone can benefit from some form of physical therapy. Physical therapy can help runners enjoy their sport for longer, or help a golfer improve his swing. If your job requires you to stand for long periods or lift heavy objects, physical therapy can help you get stronger and do your job more efficiently and without pain. Physical therapy may also help you reduce pain from a recent or past injury, and may allow you to avoid surgery for joint pain and other medical conditions. 

Give our office a call at (434) 817-0980 to find out how physical therapy can help you improve your life and Move Better!