Physical therapy is an encompassing term that refers to the broad methods and treatment plans a patient can undertake to alleviate certain symptoms over a wide range of ailments. A licensed therapist should conduct the physical therapy with the end goal being the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of the patient back into society.
Since physical therapy is such a broad discipline, there are many different specialties available to those looking for alternative treatment options. These specialties can include many common sports-related and chronic pain injuries in addition to occupational, orthopedic, and neurological issues.
Many injuries will impair motion and movement in some significant way, and it is the role of physical therapy to help a patient overcome these disabilities. Common specific ailments include arthritis, auto-related injuries, bone pain, cancer pain, fatigue, fibromyalgia, joint pain, joint replacement, migraines, muscle pain, sports-related injuries, and work-related injuries, among others.
When choosing a physical therapist, it is imperative that the therapist can provide the necessary licensing and credentials. From there, a good physical therapist will start at the immediate or acute stage of the injury, using a detail-oriented and personalized rehabilitation until the patient is back to full functionality.
Physical therapy typically starts with a physical performance evaluation (PPE). The PPE specifically examines your physical fitness, including strength and endurance levels. This evaluation is then used to construct a treatment plan that can help reduce apparent symptoms while diminishing pain, improving flexibility, and reopening a broad range of motion. Physical therapists continuously monitor the patient and adjust the plan over time based on responses.
The following techniques, in addition to many others, may be used during treatment: electrotherapy, exercise therapy, hot and cold therapy, work hardening and conditioning, ultrasound therapy, and sports medicine.