Physical therapy uses a series of exercises, stretches and other techniques to help restore the health, strength, flexibility, and function of bones, joints, and soft and connective tissues following an injury or after surgery. Multiple studies have demonstrated the benefits of physical therapy in helping patients of all ages heal more quickly and more consistently as well as reducing the discomfort associated with tissue damage. Physical therapy can also be used prior to surgery to aid in healing and reduce postoperative care needs following surgical procedures. In addition to therapeutic exercises, physical therapy can include functional training, soft tissue mobilization, and other manual therapy techniques, electrical stimulation, traction, and ultrasound.
Physical therapy is highly customizable, which means the approaches and techniques it uses can be adjusted to suit the individual needs, health, and goals of each patient. In addition to its use prior to and following surgery to promote healing, physical therapy is frequently used in patients with sports injuries and injuries due to car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents and other traumatic events, or to help patients relieve the pain, stiffness, and other symptoms of diseases like arthritis or conditions like tendonitis, bursitis, or disc-related back and nerve problems. Plus, physical therapy can be very useful in helping athletes and others prevent future injuries and enjoy better overall health and function.
Physical therapy begins with an evaluation of the patient's specific needs as well as a review of any records or information from the patient's orthopedist. Patients will also be asked about their symptoms and passive and active movements may be used to determine how well the patient is progressing during their treatment. The patient may be asked to perform exercises or stretches, sometimes using equipment to isolate or focus on a specific muscle group. Depending on the patient's needs, other types of therapy may also be provided. Most physical therapy programs also include at-home exercises or lifestyle changes to help patients achieve their goals faster.
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