Physical Therapy: Knowing When to Go

Dr. Angela Seabright
Elise LaPointe

| 3 min read

Physical therapy patient being helped by physical therapist.
Physical therapy is beneficial for patients of all abilities and ailments.
Whether you have sustained an injury, are dealing with chronic pain or have a disorder that requires additional assistance, physical therapy is a great tool to utilize to help manage pain. The goal of a physical therapist is to diagnose physical abnormalities, restore physical function and mobility, maintain physical function and promote physical activity and proper function. Some of the specific reasons a physical therapist is visited include:
  • Age-related medical problems that are causing pain.
  • A fall occurs, and bones are broken that require long periods of rest, which can lead to a decrease in muscle mass. Physical therapy will help to rebuild those muscle functions lost during recovery periods. Physical therapy can also reduce the risk of falling by improving balance, muscle mobility and flexibility.
  • A sports injury has occurred such as a pulled muscle, strained or torn ligament or inflammation in a tendon.
  • Assist in the recovery process of a major surgery, such as knee or hip replacements.
  • Cartilage is loose or missing, which is causing pain.
  • Chronic pain that needs to be managed such as back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis or trigger finger.
  • Management of diabetes, heart and lung disease, developmental delays, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.
  • Reduction of pain caused by musculoskeletal dysfunction or neurological conditions such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, vestibular dysfunction and traumatic brain injuries.
  • To treat and manage women’s health issues and pelvic floor dysfunctions.
How to Know it’s Time to See a Physical Therapist
You shouldn’t have to suffer through constant pain. Physical therapy is a great, non-invasive treatment plan to help you live your best life.
If you’ve suffered a nasty spill and have followed the correct protocol such as resting for a few days and icing, and you’re still feeling pain after a few days, it may be time to see a physical therapist as this could be a sign of greater damage.
Dull, constant pain is another reason to seek out physical therapy treatment. Even though it may not be at the forefront of your worries, it could be a sign of a chronic injury and just an hour of treatment a week can help manage pain and restore mobility. Sharp pain is also a sign to see a physical therapist as this could mean you have a stress fracture, pulled muscle or torn ligament that would require treatment. Treating side effects of diseases can be accomplished through physical therapy, as well.
Benefits of Physical Therapy Treatment
There are a multitude of benefits from physical therapy including:
  • Reduction in chronic pain.
  • Mobility, flexibility and balance will improve, which can slow down the natural aging process.
  • Participation in daily and leisurely activities will become more enjoyable and less strenuous.
  • Side effects of auto-immune disorders, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, are managed naturally.
  • Surgery is avoided in most situations and intake of pain medications can be reduced.
  • Young athletes can strengthen specific body parts / muscle groups that are often overlooked in practice.
Listen to your body and give it the extra help it sometimes needs to get back to full health. You can save yourself surgery, prolonged periods of pain or injury by taking a few hours out of your week to see a physical therapist.
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Photo credit: aldomurillo

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