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What Exactly Is Physical Therapy?


Did you know that exercise-based treatment, like physical therapy, has been shown to produce a better outcome in some cases than surgical alternatives? Not only is physical therapy non-invasive, but it boasts no downtime, and can be very effective in pain and injury relief.

Many people have a lot of misconceptions about what physical therapy really is. They think only those recovering from some form of surgery can benefit from a visit to a Physical Therapy clinic. Post-op treatment is certainly one of the benefits of physical therapy, but there are so many more.

For instance, you can enjoy less shoulder and hip pain, better posture, better sports performance, and much more. But how does Physical Therapy really work, what does it involve, and will it hurt?

Get rid of your first clinic-visit jitters with this guide!


What Is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a form of medical care centered around reducing pain and increasing your physical function. This means improving mobility, balance, and movement patterns to restore and improve movement, and enjoy the activities that motivate you most. Through the use of exercises, skilled manual therapy, motor training, and a few pieces of equipment, a physical therapist will restore your physical function, muscle strength, and more!

The specific treatment plan for your case will depend on your condition. The plan you Physical Therapist forms will aim to treat both the functional limitations, and the root cause. Although many conditions can be treated with physical therapy, a few common ones include:

  • Pain relief

  • Improved mobility

  • Recovery from a sports injury

  • Recovery from a car accident

  • Recovery from a stroke

  • Surgery prevention

  • Improve balance

  • Reduce fall risk

  • Recovery after childbirth

There are many more! In fact, you don't even need an obvious injury to benefit from physical therapy. Physical therapy can be beneficial in treating even minor physical problems and prevent injuries down the line.

For a full list of conditions treated, see this page.


Pre-Op and Post-Op Physical Therapy

The most obvious application for physical therapy is recovering from surgery. Physical therapy can be used both before and after surgery, to experience a better outcome and a quicker recovery.

Surgery is invasive by nature and often results in swelling, atrophy, and reduced flexibility. After any procedure, the area will be tight and swollen, and the muscles in the area will switch off and atrophy.

Pre-op therapy focuses on building the surrounding muscles in the area. This will improve strength and stability. The stronger the muscles are, the better they will be able to recover from the trauma of surgery.

Post-surgery therapy will involve gradually rebuilding strength, restoring muscle function, and improving flexibility. In addition, your therapist will help to improve your agility and coordination, also impacted by surgery.

Without physical therapy before and after surgery, it may lead to poor post-surgical outcomes, without the proper movement re-education. There also could be a greater chance of reinjury.


Confronting Pain

Did you know that seeing a physical therapist in the first three months of lower back pain has been proven to significantly reduce the likelihood of needing pain medication?

You might think that pain is something you need to live with or medicate, but physical therapists can reduce pain by treating its root cause! After an assessment of your movement patterns, posture, and more, Physical Therapists can figure out where your pain is coming from, and address the source with an appropriate specialized program.

Is it coming from a pinched nerve? A tight muscle pulling on the spine? Therapists can pick up on the subtle signs your body is giving off and can narrow it down.

Your therapist might have you walk up and down to check your gait, feel the muscles of your back for tension, and test the mobility and flexibility of your spinal muscles.

From there, they can coordinate a treatment plan. If your pain is from bad posture when sitting or standing, they can use poor posture physical therapy to correct your stance so it's not straining the muscles.

Furthermore, they can treat the discomfort that comes from spine pain injuries which will improve your quality of life. Whether your pain is caused by your lifestyle, your posture, or an injury, your physical therapist can form a targeted treatment plan.


Sports-Related Physical Therapy

You don't have to be a professional athlete to experience a sports injury! Sprained ankles, stiff shoulders, strained muscles, all are incredibly common and easy to treat.

Not only can you get sports-related injury physical therapy, but you can also get preventative care from them. Physical therapists can perform running gait analyses and check out your movement patterns to identify if you're at risk of injury while playing your sport!

If you experience pain in your knee while running, you may benefit from Physical Therapy for your knee, which should contain a thorough running gait analysis, to assess your condition during the activity that is most applicable to you. During the analysis, you'll run on a treadmill while the therapist watches and films you. Watching the video in slow motion will help them find biomechanical deficits, such as limitations in your hip extension, foot strike, and roll-over pattern.

Correcting any issues will make you faster, prevent injury, and help deal with any chronic pain. In addition, overuse injury physical therapy can help ease symptoms of repetitive motion like tennis elbow.


Treatment Methods

For most muscle injuries, treatment is a combination of manual therapy, including soft tissue mobilization, cupping, and blood flow restriction. These techniques are no more painful than a firm massage! In addition, your therapist may also use an agility ladder, balance, and footwork drills to improve your coordination and stability.

You can learn more about the effective treatment methods that you can expect in here!


Visit a Physical Therapy Clinic for All Your Needs

Now that you know what a Physical Therapist can treat and all the benefits of physical therapy, there's no reason to hesitate. Even if you're experiencing only mild discomfort, it's best to listen to your body while it's whispering, not while it's screaming! Prevent and treat injuries easily with the help of a professional.

For all your pain and injury treatment needs, visit us at TrueMotion Physical Therapy. Our experienced and well-trained professionals have spent years servicing the Vancouver Washington area. Reach out for your first appointment!

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