Common FAQs about Physical Therapy

The human body is an amazing machine; walking, running, skipping, thinking, feeling, creating, and speaking doesn’t nearly cover the amount of things it can do. However, when our bodies get injured or we are in constant pain, we need a little help recovering. That’s where physical therapy comes in. Even though physical therapy has become more widely known over the years, there’s still a lot of surprising facts about it. It’s not just for sports stars or folks recovering from surgery. It’s accessible to nearly everyone and can help with a ton of ailments.

There are lots of questions to answer when it comes to physical therapy, so let’s start with the obvious. What is physical therapy? Physical therapy is intentional, rehabilitative movement of the body that helps with mobility, pain reduction, restorative functions, and prevention of injuries. A physical therapist will create a plan to work with each patient to help with their particular issue. It may take a few weeks of physical therapy to correct or manage a problem or it may take several months, depending on the injury. Physical therapy treats both acute (sudden pain usually from an injury) and chronic pain (pain that lasts longer than three months). Therapists’ can use techniques such as massage, manual therapy, or acupuncture in addition to specific exercises.

PT: It’s Not Just for Sports

Physical therapy helps with many problems, such as back pain, neck pain, sports related injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, hip pain, strokes, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries, among many others. In addition to acute pain, physical therapy can help with long term conditions like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

It isn’t just below the neck that physical therapists’ treat. They can also help with TMJ disorder. Temporomandibular joint disorder is pain in the muscle that connects the jawbone to the skull. People with TMJ disorder can experience intense facial pain and headaches, reduction of movement in the jaw, and pain around the ear(s). What physical therapy can do is drastically reduce pain in the area with exercises to strengthen and stretch the jaw muscles. Other treatments could include hot and cold ice on the area in pain.

Arthritic pain is an excellent reason to see a physical therapist. Not only can they help manage pain from arthritis, they can help slow down the process entirely. By evaluating your posture, body mechanics, and muscle imbalances, a physical therapist can help reduce pain, fatigue, and even improve overall balance in the body.

In addition to adults, children also benefit from physical therapy. Some common diagnoses that pediatric physical therapy addresses is toe walking, down syndrome, developmental delays, hypotonia (muscle weakness), autism, or sports and play related injuries.

One of the bigger questions that may loom if you are in pain is, when should you seek help from a physical therapist? The answer is simple: Look for a physical therapist if you have pain that is hindering your everyday life and is limiting your physical mobility. Your doctor may refer you to one, or you can seek one out yourself. Either way, you don’t need to stay in pain day after day. It is so important to see a physical therapist so you can treat the pain you have now and help prevent it in the future.

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