What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a form of recovery where a physical therapist evaluates and helps treat any physical function of the human body. Typically, an initial diagnosis is provided, and then your physical therapist will work with you throughout your recovery to help restore your motion. 

Those seeking physical therapy may be doing so due to injury, disability, disease, or condition… but no matter what your reason for pursuing physical therapy, you should know that your physical therapist is a highly trained professional who will work with you to help you recover. 

Upon your first visit to a physical therapist, you will go through the following steps: 

  • Physical exam/evaluation, health history, and a few other tests for movement and flexibility
  • Receive a diagnosis, prognosis, and next steps
  • A physical therapy treatment that will depend on your diagnosis (this may be anything from massage, heat, or cold therapy, warm water therapy, or ultrasound to ease muscle pain or spasms) 
  • “Homework” which is part of your physical therapy treatment

You will always receive some sort of homework exercise that will be evaluated again at your follow up appointment to help track your progress. Subsequent appointments will work more on your recovery after testing your progress. 

What are the benefits of physical therapy?

There are many benefits of physical therapy, even if your condition is not something “major”, like simple back pain from sitting at a desk all day. Physical therapy can benefit anyone in terms of pain management, general strength, conditioning, and can even improve athletic ability. 

The benefits of seeing a physical therapist will always depend on your condition, but in general, you can expect to experience: 

  • Better pain management 
  • Improvements to mobility/movement
  • Recovery from injury
  • Recovery from stroke or paralysis 
  • Preventing slips and falls (improved balance)
  • Avoiding or being better prepared for surgery
  • Strength and conditioning 
  • Improved athletic ability 
  • Reduction of age-related ailments 
  • Management of other conditions 

As you can see, the benefits of seeing a physical therapist are seemingly endless. There’s certainly merit to giving it a shot if you are on the fence. 

A physical therapist may also point out some areas to work on that may not have been readily apparent or the reason for your initial visit. For example, you’ll likely learn that the spot that hurts is rarely the source of the pain and in reality, the issue may be somewhere else along your biomechanical chain. 

Attending physical therapy, while 100% necessary for some conditions, is simply an option for others. If physical therapy is included in your health benefits or you are able to afford to see a physical therapist on a regular basis, it is highly recommended to help improve your quality of life through recovery and strength!