Seven Key Benefits of Physical Therapy
Unless you’ve attended physical therapy in the past, it’s probably safe to say that most of us have only a rudimentary understanding of what it exactly entails. A common notion is that physical therapy helps people who are recovering from an injury or recent surgery. While that is certainly true, it’s only a piece of the entire physical therapy puzzle!
Physical therapy (PT for short) is care that helps people restore or improve mobility, at times addressing pain. Therapists help patients better function in their daily lives and improve overall health. Not just any healthcare professional can perform PT. It takes a licensed physical therapist that has successfully completed specialized education and has gained clinical expertise to evaluate patients’ needs and develop individualized plans of care.
It’s empowering to understand the different ways that PT can be of benefit to both you and your family so that you are aware of your treatment options. Especially in this time of the Coronavirus, PT is a more accessible and often safer choice than higher-risk environments like medical facilities.
7 Key Benefits of Physical Therapy
1. Recover From Injury or Surgery
Physical therapy after surgery and physical therapy treatment to recover from an injury are two very common reasons patients get PT. In both of these instances, the body is likely in a fragile state and requires consistent therapy over weeks or months. Physical therapists’ goal is to get patients back to feeling like themselves so they can safely return to normal function and normal life.
2. Avoid Surgery
Yes, you read that correctly! There are some conditions that can be appropriately and fully addressed by a physical therapist — lower back conditions, meniscal tears, and carpal tunnel syndrome, to name a few.
A reputable doctor will refer patients to physical therapy if they believe that PT can effectively resolve their condition. However, you can also seek a second opinion by making an appointment for therapy on your own.
Idaho is a direct access state meaning, you do not need a prescription from a healthcare professional to seek physical therapy. Further, 68% of patients with direct access to PT had resolved their symptoms without additional medical treatment.
3. Physical Therapy Before Surgery
In situations where surgery is needed, a specialized type of physical therapy called prehabilitation (prehab for short) can help prepare your body for a better post-operative recovery.
Completing a prehabilitation physical therapy program prior to surgery helps to not only maximize your range of motion and strength, but it will also enhance your understanding of the recovery process after surgery.
You can think of prehab as a “dress rehearsal” for your post-operative experience. Its primary goal is to strengthen your body and reduce recovery time.
4. Reduce or Eliminate Back, Neck, or Knee Pain
With millions of Americans quarantining and working from home the last several months due to the Coronavirus, many have inadvertently settled into a more sedentary lifestyle. As a result, back, neck and knee pain are on the rise.
Proper stretching, tailored exercises and posture while seated all play a critical role in helping reduce and eliminate your bodily pain in these areas. Physical therapists can help resolve your chronic pain and teach you how to prevent it from recurring.
- Physical therapy for back pain has been recommended as an ideal alternative treatment to potentially addictive opioids.
- Daily neck stretches can help alleviate mild to moderate cases of neck and shoulder pain. But if your condition becomes chronic or worsens, you may consider physical therapy for neck pain.
- Some of our patients with knee pain see significant improvement with dry needling, while others prefer traditional physical therapy for knee pain treatment.
5. Improve Balance and Prevent Falls
Over 69 million people in the United States have experienced some type of vestibular dysfunction in their lives. Unfortunately, a majority of adults living with vestibular disorders go undiagnosed and untreated, resulting in a diminished quality of life.
Often conditions like vertigo and being prone to falling are able to be completely resolved with vestibular physical therapy. PTs employ specific forms of exercise, varied techniques and training to reduce functional impairments and improve patients’ quality of life.
6. Keep Pelvic Health in Check
Pelvic pain impacts both men and women, and it can be a sensitive topic to broach. Oftentimes, people don't know where to start to look for answers. Physical therapy is a great first step because it provides a conservative approach that can tremendously help in addressing pelvic pain symptoms.
Because pelvic floor PT focuses on the musculoskeletal system, PTs can put your symptoms in the context of your whole body, often drawing connections in the body that you may not have considered. A combination of manual therapy, gentle exercise, behavioral modification, etc., is usually offered and treatment is tailored to your specific needs. Experiencing pelvic pain? Physical therapy for the pelvic floor may help.
7. Recover From or Prevent a Sports Injury
Physical therapy is for people of all ages and abilities, and that includes athletes. From high school athletics all the way up to the professional level, physical therapy for athletes is common.
Working in coordination with athletic trainers, physical therapists are able to develop sport-specific strength and conditioning programs to help prepare athletes for their season and make sure they are in top physical shape. With some seasons postponed or even cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, PT can help keep athletes game-ready and injury-free for when they return.
When injuries do happen, athletic trainers and physical therapists have the expertise to design customized rehabilitation programs to safely get athletes back in the game.