Does Physical Therapy Work? How Does It Help?
The short answer is yes! Decades of research find physical therapy can help you recover more quickly from injuries, improve chronic conditions, manage age-related issues, improve athletic performance, and recover from surgery. In fact, physical therapy may help you avoid surgery altogether.
Results of a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found no difference in patient outcomes between those who had surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis and those who had physical therapy without surgery. Additionally, surgical patients had a higher incidence of complications, some of which were severe. Many studies support similar findings.
Can Physical Therapy Help With Your Issue?
Physical therapists are experts on how the body is designed to move and how to identify and treat issues that are hindering optimum movement. No matter what your age or level of physical ability, your physical therapist can help you manage pain and regain strength, flexibility, and mobility, so you can get back to an active life.
It may surprise you to learn that physical therapists do not only treat injuries or conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system but also treat dysfunction in any of the body systems affecting movement.
Physical therapists treat a wide variety of issues, including, but not limited to:
- Acute injuries like muscle sprain or strain, dislocation, muscle tear or bruising, or hand fracture.
- Chronic conditions like neck or back pain, tennis or golf elbow, runner’s knee, Achilles tendinitis, and other chronic conditions.
- Neurological injuries such as a stroke, balance deficits, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, or brain or spinal cord injuries.
- Age-related issues like poor balance, increased risk of falls, decreased muscle strength, impaired mobility, and osteoporosis.
Physical therapists routinely treat sports injuries, and many also work with athletes on conditioning programs to improve performance and minimize the risk of injury.
What To Expect In Your First Physical Therapy Visit
The goal of physical therapy is to restore function and mobility, improve strength, range of motion, and balance, and manage pain. Your physical therapist wants to help you recover as quickly as possible and to teach you how to avoid a future injury or impairment of function.
In order to design a rehabilitation program that fits your specific needs, your physical therapist will perform some or all of the following on your first visit:
- A complete physical examination.
- A thorough review of your medical history, including X-rays if available.
- A pain assessment, including what makes the pain better or worse.
- Posture evaluation.
- Gait assessment.
- Balance issues.
- Strength and range of motion measurements.
If you are an athlete, your evaluation may also include an assessment of power, speed, stamina, and agility, as well as sport-specific skills.
When designing a program to fit your needs, your physical therapist will consider assessment results, along with your recovery goals, to design an effective, achievable treatment plan.
A Combination of Therapeutic Approaches Helps Improve Your Condition
Throughout your sessions, your physical therapist will work with you to reduce pain, increase blood flow, improve flexibility and range of motions, reduce swelling and inflammation, and increase muscle strength. To accomplish these goals, your treatment plan will include a combination of manual therapeutic techniques (hands-on) and various modalities.
Depending on your needs, your physical therapist may use hands-on treatment techniques such as massage, joint manipulation, myofascial release, muscle energy technique, and more.
Your treatment plan may also include one or more of the following modalities:
- Blood Flow Restriction. Blood flow restriction therapy enables patients to make greater strength gains while lifting lighter loads, reducing the overall stress placed on the limb.
- Deep Muscle Stimulation. This modality uses percussion and mechanical vibrations to reach deep into the muscle tissue to stimulate the muscle.
- IASTM Technique. IASTM is the acronym for Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization. It is a type of manual therapy that utilizes specialized ergonomic tools that massage and scrape the skin gently. IASTM uses a set of stainless steel instruments to help soft tissue injuries like repetitive stress injury, strains, sprains, and subluxations.
- Kinesio Taping. This technique is most frequently used by athletes — especially those who engage in prolonged activities. Kinesio tape can also benefit many people outside of the athletic world to reduce pain and muscle spasms.
The major component of any physical therapy rehabilitation program centers on specific exercises and stretches to be performed in the clinic and at home. You will learn to execute each movement properly under the supervision of your physical therapist, so you can safely perform them at home.
Your level of commitment to your home exercise program directly affects the speed of your recovery. If you are diligent in performing your home routine, you will recover more quickly.
Physical Therapy For Athletes
While PT sessions for athletes typically include the treatment approaches discussed above, they also include sport-specific rehabilitation components. Regaining and strengthening the mechanics needed to perform optimally in their sport is critical for most athletes.
A sports physical therapist looks at your body composition, how your body works, and identifies patterns of movement that are adversely affecting your performance, and increasing your risk of injury. They can then incorporate that information into your recovery plan.
What Is The Athletic PT ARC Progression?
Athletic Physical Therapy is proud to deliver the best in physical therapy and sports rehabilitation services in our state-of-the-art facilities. Our physical therapists are skilled and experienced in applying proven, scientifically-backed treatment approaches to help you get back into action quickly.
At Athletic PT, our proprietary ARC Progression is a rehabilitation program like no other. Our physical therapists are passionate about helping each patient, athlete or nonathlete, achieve the highest degree of strength, flexibility, and speed possible, in the shortest amount of time.
Developed by renowned physical therapist Dr. Stephen Clark, PT, DPT, MHS, OCS, MBA over the course of 20 years, the ARC Progression is based on evidence-based treatment results from thousands of physical therapy patients with hundreds of orthopedic diagnoses.
The ARC Progression comprises 3 different stages of rehabilitation to help:
- Reduce Inflammation and Pain
- Gain Flexibility and Strength
- Restore Power and Performance
Because we believe in both continuity of care and the relationship you build with your physical therapist are vital to the recovery process, you will work with the same physical therapist every visit. We respect and value your input, and invite your feedback during every step of your recovery journey.
Contact Athletic PT to learn how we can help you get back to an active and healthy lifestyle, free from pain or physical limitation.