Physical therapy involves the use of a variety of techniques designed to promote healing, reduce pain, or adjust behaviors and skillsets to adapt to a permanent condition that is affecting someone’s life.
Physical therapists deal with a lengthy variety of conditions that range from a sports injury to heart disease. They are the ground-level service providers for healing, conditioning, pain relief, and adaptation to unusual circumstances.
In so many words, your body is designed to heal from illnesses and injuries of all sorts. Your immune system fights off diseases and helps you recover from them. Your muscles and bones, when they are injured, are designed to recover, mending fractures and breaks and growing replacement tissue in many cases. A physical therapist has many techniques that accelerate the healing process. However, if a condition is permanent, like the loss of a limb or spinal cord paralysis, a physical therapist teaches ways to adjust to your disability so you can be as active and pain-free as possible.
You can view healing as one way your body reacts to pain; as such, healing is a process of returning function and to reduce pain. Since physical therapy can promote a speedier recovery, pain relief is an important goal in many physical therapy interventions.
It is impossible to list here all the conditions where a physical therapy strategy can be helpful. They help people learn to walk with a cane or braces; they help people relearn to walk; they help restore movement after a traumatic sports injury; they use a variety of massage techniques to promote deep healing and relaxation; they help women recover after giving birth, and they help people who aren’t injured learn how to do various activities in a safe manner to avoid or prevent an injury in the first place.
Many insurance policies allow people to go directly to a physical therapist – to make an appointment and start working with the PT. Other policies require patients to see a primary care doctor first so that they can make a proper referral to a physical therapist.
Perhaps the best scenario in this situation is to see a doctor in a clinic that already has a physical therapist (or more than one) on staff, so the referral is as good as done.
A physical therapist’s goals are always to reduce pain, restore functionality, or prevent injury. Among the first steps in the process are for the physical therapist to measure your current functioning status and assess the level of pain you are suffering.
The physical therapist will then create a customized plan to address your issues. They will then walk you through the plan and teach it to you. Typically, a physical therapist will teach you stretching, relaxation, or exercising activities that you can do at home. They will then schedule a series of appointments with you to monitor your progress and teach new activities to move you to the next level of healing.
Appointments are also helpful for the physical therapist to conduct hands-on healing that is best done in the office, such as extensive massages or measuring your progress. As such, an appointment with a physical therapist often lasts much longer than the standard visit to a doctor’s office. The physical therapist is where the rubber meets the road, where the actual healing from many physical conditions begins. It can take some time for the magic to work. If you are committed to healing, a physical therapist can be a miracle worker.