FAQs on Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is a treatment option for many painful chronic health conditions. In a study where it was used to treat osteoarthritis, patients treated with exercise and manual physical therapy showed significant improvement after 4 weeks and one year of clinical treatment. The improvements involved less pain and stiffness, as well as improved functional ability and endurance.
The therapy most always involves some form of exercise, which is tailored to meet the individual’s needs. The exercise is specifically designed for the treated condition, illness, injury, or to prevent future health problems. The physical therapist will teach you new ways of performing regular activities so you receive some health benefits. In addition, exercise often includes stretching, which is designed to reduce stress on joints, as well as core stability exercises to strengthen the muscles of the back and hips.
Manual therapy, also called bodywork, is the term used for treatment performed with the therapist’s hands. The goals are decreased pain, relaxation, and increased flexibility. The types of manual therapy include:
- Mobilization – Slowed, measured movements used to pull, twist, or push bone and joints into position. This treatment loosens tight tissues around a joint, which helps flexibility and alignment.
- Massage – This is pressure applied to the soft tissues of the body (muscles). Massage relaxes muscles eases soft tissue pain and increases circulation.
- Manipulation – Pressure applied to a joint is called manipulation, which can be done with a specialized device or the hands. This controlled force used on the joint can be slow or rapid.
Physical therapists use education to assist the patient manages chronic pain. This involves:
- Protecting the joints to avoid re-injury
- Performing daily tasks without injury
- Doing home exercises
- Making the home safe
- Using assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or crutches
Specialized Physical Therapy Treatments
They are also trained to offer specialized treatments in Gilbert, AZ. These include:
- Vestibular rehabilitation – TThis helps the inner ear respond to changes in the body position, which alleviates problems with vertigo (spinning sensation). This form of therapy helps you get used to the problem so you can handle it.
- Wound care – Many patients with painful conditions have wounds that do not heal well. These wounds arise because of poor blood flow to the area, and they often require extensive care. This includes special cleaning and bandaging on a regular basis.
- Decongestive lymphatic drainage – This is a special form of massage, used to reduce swelling caused when the lymphatic system does not drain fluids from the tissues.
- Ultrasound therapy – This involves a specialized device which uses high-pitched sound waves to ease muscle spasms and relax muscles before exercise. Ultrasound therapy relieves inflammation and pain, promotes healing, and warms muscles.
- Electrical stimulation – This is the use of short, mild electrical current to create some type of effect in the body. Physical therapists use electrical stimulation to reduce feelings of pain or muscle contraction. This therapy also helps wound healing.
- Heat therapy – – Heat helps relax and heal the muscles and soft tissues through increasing blood circulation. This helps stiff joints and can increase mobilization. Heat also is used to relax muscles prior to exercise.
- Ice therapy – Ice packs are useful for relieving pain, decreasing swelling, and lessening inflammation. Ice is recommended for 20 minutes at a time, several times each day.
- Hydrotherapy – Also called water therapy, hydrotherapy is the use of water to treat a disease or maintain health. Water exercise is beneficial for people who have injuries or conditions that prevent weight-bearing.
In a study comparing the effectiveness of manual therapy (MT), such as spinal mobilization, physical therapy (PT), including exercise, and continued care by the general practitioner (meds and education), researchers found that MT and PT were more effective. Higher improvement scores were noted for MT for all outcomes, followed by PT. The success rate was 72% for MT and 59% for PT.
Hoving JL, de Vet HC, Koes BW, et al. (2006). Manual therapy, physical therapy, or continued care by the general practitioner for patients with neck pain: long-term results from a pragmatic randomized clinical trial. Clin J Pain, 22(4): 370-377.
WebMD (2013). Physical therapy. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/physical-therapy-types-of-physical-therapy
Podiatry and other health conditions treated with physical therapy
Underlying diseases, accidental injuries or overuse of the lower limbs may result in podiatry disease conditions manifesting as musculoskeletal disorders. Such disorders are often accompanied by symptoms of intense pain and inflammation which hinders the free movement of the patients suffering from such a disorder. Any problem in the lower limb restricts the activity of the patient forcing him/her to change his/her lifestyle to one filled with restrictions and constant discomfort. It is extremely important to address such problems as early as possible. Podiatrists in Gilbert AZ usually attempt to treat such patients of podiatry using non-invasive techniques. Medications and heat cold therapy are primarily administered to reduce the pain and inflammation. However, when these techniques fail to ensure a complete recovery from such disorders and the disease condition starts taking a chronic form, it is then considered important to intervene using physical therapy procedures. Besides using physical therapy as a non-invasive means of treatment, the technique can also be used as a post-surgery rehabilitation therapy to ensure a patient recovers to an active life gradually and safely.
A large number of other disease conditions which may or may not include podiatry problems find their solace in this form of treatment. Physical therapy helps patients with chronic health conditions like spinal stenosis, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and other disorders that hamper the motor functions of the different areas of the body. Stroke, cardiopulmonary problems and nervous system disorders can also wreak havoc in a patient’s life and confine the patient to bed. Often, physical therapy is the only safe way to ensure patients of these disorders starts getting their grooves back and return to their old lifestyle. Physical therapy treatments are also sometimes applicable to treat childhood disorders like cerebral palsy. In such cases, physical therapists trained to treat children with such disorders works patiently with them to help them improve their mobility, strength and endurance using physical therapy methods. Thus, physical therapy is widely applicable to treat a wide variety of conditions affecting individuals of all ages. With the help of this technique, thousands of people learn to return back to activity and an improved, healthy lifestyle.