What is physical therapy?
Physical therapy is a
type of treatment you may need when health problems make it hard to move around
and do everyday tasks. It helps you move better and may relieve pain. It also
helps improve or restore your physical function and your fitness level.
The goal of physical therapy is to make daily tasks and activities
easier. For example, it may help with walking, going up stairs, or getting in
and out of bed.
Physical therapy can help with recovery after some
surgeries. Your doctor may suggest physical therapy for injuries or long-term
health problems such as:
Physical therapy may be used alone or with other
You may get physical therapy at:
- A clinic.
- A nursing home.
- Your own home, through home
- A sports or fitness setting.
What does a physical therapist do?
physical therapist will examine you and make a
treatment plan. Depending on your health problem, your therapist will help you
with flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and/or balance.
First, your therapist will try to reduce your pain and swelling. Then he
or she will probably work to increase your flexibility, strength, and
Physical therapy almost always includes exercise. It
can include stretching,
core exercises, weight lifting, and walking. Your
physical therapist may teach you an exercise program so you can do it at home.
Your physical therapist also may use
manual therapy, education, and techniques such as
heat, cold, water, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation.
Treatment may cause mild soreness or swelling. This is normal, but talk
to your physical therapist if it bothers you.
What should you look for in a physical therapist?
You'll want a therapist who has experience with your
health problem. Some physical therapist are board-certified in areas such as orthopedics, sports, geriatrics, and neurology and may offer more specialized care. Physical therapists can specialize in:
- Muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and
- Nerves and related muscles.
- The heart and
- Lung problems and breathing.
problems, including wounds and burns.
- Cancer-related problems.
- Treatment for children, older adults, or women.
Here are some questions to think about when choosing a
- Can your doctor suggest one?
you need a referral from your doctor? Some states require this.
- Will your insurance company pay for your physical therapy?