How Can a Physical Therapist Help Me?
No matter what area of the body ails you – neck, shoulder, back, knee – physical therapists have an established history of helping individuals improve their quality of life.
You and your physical therapist will work together to develop a plan to help you achieve your specific goals. To do so, your physical therapist will select treatment strategies including any or all of the following areas:
Pain. Many pain-relief strategies may be implemented, such as applying ice to the area, or using therapies such as iontophoresis (a medicated patch placed on the skin that is electrically charged and used to decrease pain and inflammation) or therapeutic ultrasound.
Range of motion. Your ankle, foot, knee or any joint may be moving improperly, causing increased strain on your tendons. Self-stretching and manual therapy techniques (massage and movement) applied to any part of the body can help restore and normalize motion and can tension.
Muscular strength. Muscular weaknesses or imbalances can result in excessive strain on tendons. Based on your specific condition, your physical therapist will design an individualized, progressive resistance program for you. You may begin by performing strengthening exercises -- for example, pushing and pulling on a resistive band, free weights or ankle weights. Or balancing on a BOSU, or a wobble board.
Manual therapy. Your therapist may treat your condition by applying hands-on treatments to move your muscles and joints in order to improve their motion and strength. These techniques often address areas that are difficult to treat on your own.
Functional training. Once your pain, strength, and motion improve, you will need to safely transition back into more demanding activities. To minimize tension and your risk of repeated injury, it is important to teach your body safe, controlled movements. Based on your goals and movement assessment, your physical therapist will create a series of activities that will help you learn how to use and move your body correctly to safely perform the tasks required to achieve your goals.
Patient education. Your therapist will work with you to identify, and establish plans to address, any possible external factors causing your pain, inappropriate exercises. He or she will assess you overall and recommend improvements, and develop a personal exercise program to help ensure a pain-free return to your desired activities.