What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a profession that uses conservative care and techniques to treat a persons’ injuries, diseases or physical impairments through non-medical means.
What conditions can a physical therapist treat?
A physical therapist can treat a vast amount of neuromuscular or musculoskeletal impairments both acute and chronic, and of all ages. They also can help prepare a patient for surgery or to return to function after a procedure.
A physical therapist in an outpatient clinic sees orthopedic injuries such as sprains and strains, fractures or contusions. They help improve balance, strength, range of motion, gait or even just functional task training for any individual who has pain or difficulty.
What is an initial evaluation and how can I prepare for one?
An initial evaluation is the first appointment that you have with your physical therapist in which they ask a series of history questions, perform tests and exams to collect date on you as a patient, by observing your posture, movement patterns, range of motion (ROM), flexibility and strength.
You can help ensure that your first appointment goes smoothly by:
- 1. Being on time and allowing an extra 15 minutes to complete the intake form prior to being seen in the clinic.
2. Wearing flexible clothing that you can move comfortably in, such as shorts, t-shirts and comfortable footwear.
Thinking about and writing down:
1. Where you have pain, what time of day you feel pain and when the pain is worse.
2. The intensity of the pain and/or numbness. (Scale of 1-10 with 10 being emergency room level of pain)
3. The type of pain, i.e. tightness, sharp, dull or burning.
4. What motions or positions both increase and/or decrease the symptoms.
5. Any questions you may have regarding your condition or your plan of care with the physical therapist.
How long can I expect to be in physical therapy?
Your appointment is scheduled in 30-minute time slots. The duration of care can range from a couple of days a week for a few months to one or two visits, depending on individual patient needs.
What modalities or tools can a physical therapist use to help me?
A physical therapist uses techniques such as:
1. Soft tissue mobilization
2. Trigger point massage
3. Nerve glides
4. Cranial sacral myofascial release
5. Trigger point dry needling
8. Electrical stimulation
10. Therapeutic exercise
11. Neuro-muscular re-education
12. Manual therapy
How long will it take for me to feel better?
Intention to make you feel better starts with the very first appointment.
Though sometimes it may take between 4 weeks or at least 6 visits to see improvement or lasting change.
Your physical therapist will educate you on various ways to reduce your pain right away by:
1. Explaining what positions or actions to avoid
2. Pain relief exercises
3. Sleeping strategies to promote healing and recovery
4. Postural reeducation
5. Establishing a corrective Plan of Care
Will I have to do work outside of the clinic?
It is strongly encouraged to perform the exercises as prescribed with the proper form to reap the full benefits of your individualized Plan of Care. Physical therapists rely on patient participation outside of treatments to facilitate their own betterment.
Upon your initial evaluation your physical therapist will provide you with a written home exercise program. You will be expected to perform these exercises daily 5x/week or until further notice by the therapist.
Important: Bring your exercise program to treatment so that your therapist may be able to add or remove exercises as you progress within your rehabilitation program.