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Why was Physical Therapy Recommended for Me

April 22, 2024

So your doctor has recommended physical therapy (PT) for you, but why? A skilled physical therapist guides patients through every stage of healing, from diagnosis to rehabilitation and prevention. Whether as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with others, PT offers benefits that may surprise you, making it an option worth exploring.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists diagnose and treat a range of injuries, disabilities, and health conditions. Physical therapy is a treatment that helps improve movement and relieve pain. It may be prescribed following an injury, after surgery or to help manage a chronic condition and is usually completed over several weeks or months.  

There are many types of physical therapy, the most recognized form is orthopedic physical therapy which addresses musculoskeletal injuries involving the muscles, bones, ligaments, fascia, and tendons. It is suitable for conditions such as fractures, sprains, tendinitis, bursitis, chronic health problems, and rehabilitation or recovery from orthopedic surgery. 

Geriatric physical therapy helps older adults who develop conditions that affect their mobility and physical function, including arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, hip and joint replacement, balance disorders, and incontinence. This type of intervention aims to restore mobility, reduce pain, and increase physical fitness levels. 

Neurological physical therapy helps with neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke. Treatment aims to increase limb responsiveness, improve movement patterns, manage tone, improve strength, and promote balance.

Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation can benefit people affected by some cardiopulmonary conditions and surgical procedures. Treatment can increase muscular and cardiovascular endurance and stamina. Pelvic floor rehabilitation treats conditions that affect the pelvic floor, such as urinary or fecal incontinence, urinary urgency and pelvic pain.

Other, lesser-known forms of PT include wound care therapy, which helps ensure a healing wound is receiving adequate oxygen and blood by way of improved circulation. Vestibular therapy can help patients with problems that can result from inner ear conditions and help them regain their balance and coordination. Decongestive therapy helps drain accumulated fluid in patients with lymphedema and other conditions that involve fluid accumulation.

Apart from physical manipulation, physical therapy may involve a variety of other treatment modalities. Iontophoresis uses an electrical current to deliver certain medications, such as topical steroids which can decrease the presence of inflammation. There are two types of electrical stimulation, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation reduces pain, while neuromuscular electrical stimulation works to stimulate muscular motor units to improve muscular engagement. Heat, moist heat and cold therapy may provide benefits to a range of conditions. Light therapy involves using special lights and lasers to treat certain medical conditions.

Depending on the reason for treatment, physical therapy has many benefits besides improving mobility and movement. It can help patients with pain management by reducing the need for opioids. The CDC recommends safer options like physical therapy to manage long-term pain. The U.S. Surgeon General also believes physical therapy has a critical role in solving the opioid crisis. According to a large-scale study published in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) early use of physical therapy holds the promise of reducing opioid use among patients with musculoskeletal pain. 

Physical therapy not only has the potential to delay or even prevent the need for surgical interventions, but also serves as a crucial component in recovering from injuries, trauma, strokes, or paralysis. Fall prevention, improved balance as well as aiding in the management of age-related medical problems are also benefits of physical therapy. 

Research has long shown that physical therapy is an effective treatment option for many symptoms and conditions. Working with a physical therapist and physical therapist assistant can help prevent chronic conditions from developing or worsening and enable a return to your previous level of function or activity. A study commissioned by the American Physical Therapy Association examined the overall value of choosing physical therapy over other options. They found that physical therapy is effective and saves on all the hidden costs of your time, pain, missed life events, and the dollars paid for services. 

If your physician has recommended physical therapy for you, West Tennessee Healthcare has Sports Plus Rehab locations throughout the area and our LIFT Therapy in Downtown Jackson that can address your needs close to home. To schedule an appointment, click here.