If you’re in pain or have experienced an accident or injury, physical therapy may be prescribed. Perhaps you’re wondering, “What does a physical therapist do?” Every day, in small towns and big cities throughout the world, physical therapy brings significant relief to countless patients. They benefit from the drug-free, non-invasive approach employed by caring and professional physical therapists, who are committed to helping their patients achieve maximum function and wellness, free from debilitating pain.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a specialty area of healthcare that involves diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system. People often seek physical therapy treatment after experiencing problems with mobility, or when having pain performing everyday work tasks and leisure activities. The causes of these issues range from automobile or work accidents to sports injuries, and from surgery to chronic health problems, like osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis.
In addition to helping patients recover from injuries, physical therapy has proven to be successful in:
- Improving mobility and motion: Reduced range of motion in joints such as the hips, knees, and shoulders can affect many areas of your life. Whether you want to be able to kneel in your garden, bend over to pick up your child, or rise from a seated position without pain, physical therapy can help you do it.
- Reducing the risk of further injury: When joints are stressed or muscles are strained, even simple tasks or repetitive movements can result in injuries. Physical therapy can help reduce your risk of injury at work, and in everyday activities, favorite hobbies, or sports.
- Improving balance to prevent falls: Particularly among the elderly, falls can be extremely dangerous. With physical therapy, you can strengthen muscles, correct your mechanics, and improve balance, to help prevent falls before they happen.
- Avoiding surgery: In many cases, patients have been able to avoid expensive and invasive surgeries through a physical therapy treatment program. For example, research shows that physical therapy is just as effective as surgery to alleviate stiffness from moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee.*
- Eliminating low back and other common body pains: Whether you have pain in your low back, neck, shoulders, knees, or anywhere in the body, physical therapy can help eliminate it. Physical therapy treatment is a drug-free way to find long-lasting relief from debilitating pain.
- Speeding recovery from stroke: Strokes are a leading cause of long-term disability. Physical therapy is typically a major part of stroke rehabilitation, and can help improve mobility and motor function.
- Helping manage diabetes: Diabetes often results in loss of muscle mass, which can affect mobility. Physical therapy can safely and effectively address this issue, and improve the quality of life for diabetes patients.
So, to answer the question, “What is physical therapy?” – it’s an effective form of treatment that can improve your health and your quality of life. In fact, no matter where you hurt, or what is causing your loss of mobility, chances are you can find immediate relief and long-lasting results through physical therapy services.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists are licensed healthcare providers who are specially trained in evaluating patients and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system. They receive extensive training in physiology, human anatomy, kinesiology, biology, and other sciences, and work with people of all ages who have sustained an injury, or who suffer from disabilities, impairments, or limitations in their physical function.
These skilled professionals are dedicated to improving patients’ quality of life by relieving pain, restoring movement, and returning full function to affected areas of the body. In addition, physical therapists promote better health, wellness, and fitness by slowing the progression of functional decline, and advancing patients’ participation in life-enhancing activities.
One role of a professional physical therapist is designing an individualized physical therapy plan for each patient, based on their clinical judgment and the patient’s goals. Other physical therapist job duties include consulting, researching, and educating patients about anatomy, the healing process, safer ways to move, and correct posture. They also teach patients how to perform exercises, whether at home or at an exercise facility, to strengthen muscles and improve range of motion.
The advanced methods used by today’s physical therapists include hands-on techniques to relax muscles, relieve pain, and improve range of motion. Along with therapeutic exercise, physical therapy modalities include:
- Myofascial Release: A form of soft-tissue therapy that aims to reduce pain and increase range of motion. The physical therapist mobilizes the fascia, a web of connective tissue covering muscles, organs, and skeletal structures.
- Muscle Energy Techniques: Therapy in which the patient’s own muscles are utilized to correct the underlying problem.
- Joint Mobilization: A type of manual therapy to improve joint mobility and function.
- Balance and Proprioception Training: A common form of physical therapy that can help improve balance. “Proprioception” is the sense of your body in space.
Many physical therapists specialize in certain areas of care such as orthopedics, sports or treating children. Whether specialists or generalists, skilled physical therapists share a goal of bringing a balance of strength and mobility to each patient.
Relieve Pain and Restore Health at the Sports and Physical Therapy Center
When you’re ready to find out for yourself what physical therapy is and what physical therapists do, you’ll want to consult with a caring and professional team. If you’re a St. Louis County resident seeking a physical therapy center in Eureka, Missouri, you need look no further than the Sports and Physical Therapy Center. Owner Sean Quinn and his dedicated team of licensed physical therapists have extensive experience in evaluating patients, creating personal physical therapy programs, and achieving real results.
Your physical therapist will work closely with you to define your goals. He or she will then create a plan to help you achieve them – while considering your lifestyle and abilities. The Sports and Physical Therapy Center team believes that education is a critical component of physical therapy treatment for injuries or pain. Throughout your treatment plan, your therapist will teach you how your body can heal itself, while keeping you safe from future injuries through proper form and technique.
Find out how a professional physical therapist can play an important role in your return to good health, no matter what ails you. Call the Sports and Physical Therapy Center at 636-938-4065 to schedule an evaluation. Learn about the full range of services provided at the Sports and Physical Therapy Center and review patient results by visiting http://www.ptstl.com.
* Kirkley, Alexandra et al. “A Randomized Trial of Arthroscopic surgery for Osteoarthritis of the Knee.” The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 359. September 11, 2008. <http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0708333>