When a patient becomes injured, the top priority of physicians is to help get them mobile again. In order to achieve that, a physician will refer patients for physical therapy. The goal of sending a patient for physical therapy treatment is to help them regain their physical function, including helping with walking, getting up and down stairs, and general mobility.
A patient may be referred for physical therapy for a number of different reasons. Severe injuries as a result car accidents or contact sports are two of the top referring reasons why a patient may benefit from this kind of treatment. Physical therapy may also be recommended to patients who have undergone surgeries or suffer from long-term health problems such as COPD and arthritis.
In order to determine whether or not the patient requires physical therapy, close attention is paid to the symptoms that the patient is experiencing. For example, if pain lingers for longer than 3 days despite icing the affected area(s), if there are visible changes (such as swelling) to the affected areas, or if pain medication does not provide the patient with any relief.
For the aforementioned symptoms above, the goal of a physical therapist will be to reduce pain and inflammation. To do so, they may utilize the use of hot or cold compresses, electrical stimulation, or manual therapy. Manual therapy includes massage, which is done by applying pressure to the soft tissue/muscles, mobilization, which is done by slowing pushing or pulling joints and bones back into alignment, as well as manipulation, which is done by applying a significant amount of pressure to the affected joints.
A physical therapist will also recommend that a patient get regular exercise and will teach them an easy-to-follow exercise program that they are able to do at home. This can include exercises for core stabilization to help strengthen the muscles in the back, neck, pelvis and hip, stretches, as well as weight lifting, and even going walking. When beginning physical therapy, it is not uncommon to experience a certain amount of pain. However, if it becomes bothersome then be sure to bring that up with your physician or physical therapist as soon as possible.