40318689 - doctor examining his patients leg in medical office
November 25, 2016

Physical therapists play an important role in the recovery and wellness process. These healthcare professionals assess and treat individuals who have health concerns that involve back and neck pain, osteoporosis, developmental delays and disabilities, carpal tunnel syndrome, wounds, burns, and various other conditions that impact a person’s ability to move naturally comfortably without pain.

The primary goal of a physical therapist is to provide cost-effective, research-based treatment that improves mobility and relieves pain. To work in this field, an individual must have a graduate degree – either a master’s or a doctorate degree from an accredited program – and successfully complete the national licensure examination. This level of education and assessment ensures that individuals in the field are well-prepared to meet your healthcare needs.

Primary Benefits of Physical Therapy

While there are obviously a vast number of benefits that physical therapists can provide, research indicates that patients see the greatest benefit in three categories:

  • Increasing range of motion and movement
  • Avoiding surgery
  • Reducing the necessity for prescription medication

As you begin treatment, you’ll be able to work independently with your therapist to work toward achieving these goals.

Increasing Range of Motion and Movement

Movement is a key part of everyday life. From completing a task such as doing the dishes to playing a sport like golf or even performing your job, you use movement to do all of those things. Without the range of motion to do so, your quality life will likely not be what it could be. A physical therapist will work with you to increase your range of motion, enabling you to do all of those important functional tasks. Therapy is also designed to help you avoid future injuries and to learn the components important for living a healthy lifestyle by increasing your strength, coordination, balance, and flexibility.

Avoiding Surgery

While surgery is an effective treatment option in some situations, physical therapy is often a better alternative. Therapy is considered a conservative option that can often be applied to prolong the need for surgery or eliminate it altogether. A physical therapist can implement and suggest exercises and other treatment options that strengthen damaged muscles, loosen tight ligaments, and otherwise improve the overall health of the body to help you avoid surgery.

In cases when surgery is deemed necessary, a physical therapists can support you before and after the procedure. Again, a therapist will administer treatment options and suggest at-home exercises to speed your recovery and help you regain the greatest level of mobility and movement possible.

For some individuals, health conditions or other concerns prevent surgery from even being an option. In this case, physical therapists are invaluable for providing effective treatment to support recovery and uphold quality of life.

Treating Pain without Prescription Medication

Another benefit of seeing a physical therapist regularly is helping with pain management. This treatment can often be so beneficial that it reduces the need for long-term prescription medication. In fact, research indicates that individuals who receive therapy after surgery actually show greater improvement in mobility as well as function with much less pain.

While medication can be an important component of managing several acute or chronic conditions, physical therapy can serve as an effective alternative to ongoing use of medications for managing pain and mediating other health conditions.

Common Conditions Treated by Therapists

Physical therapists are knowledgeable on a broad spectrum of conditions. As such, these individuals provide treatment for a variety of different conditions. Some of the different health concerns physical therapists may treat include:

  • Arthritis
  • Back discomfort
  • Balance
  • Wounds
  • Burns
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Motor development
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Fractures and breaks
  • Hand injuries
  • Foot, ankle, and leg injuries
  • Chronic headaches
  • Incontinence
  • Lymphedema
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Sports injuries
  • Stroke
  • Brain injuries
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

Treatment of each of these conditions involves increasing motion, reducing pain, restoring overall function, and preventing disability. Your physical therapist will work with you to create a fitness and wellness program to help you live a healthier more active lifestyle not limited by your condition.

Therapists work in a variety of different settings, including private practices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and home health agencies. Many therapists are also employed to directly support schools, sports teams, and other sports and fitness facilities.

There is high demand for physical therapists today for the important role these individuals play in the wellness process. If you or someone you know is dealing with chronic pain or discomfort or a mobility issue, it may be time to arrange an appointment with a physical therapist.


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