Learn about the top seven leading physical therapy treatments for pain, injuries, and mobility issues. Get more information on the science behind the therapies and how they can reduce your symptoms.
Physical therapists treat a broad spectrum of ailments and movement disorders. From bursitis and back pain to osteoarthritis and overuse injuries, the list goes on and on. It’s hardly surprising that to best support their clients’ diverse treatment needs, physical therapists call on an extensive list of techniques.
Let’s count down a few of the most common methods used by physical therapists to promote proper mechanics and movement of the human body while helping their clients stay healthy and strong.
Discover the Top Seven Leading Physical Therapy Treatments
Physical therapy is a form of rehabilitation that aims to relieve pain, improve function and mobility, and maintain overall health and wellness. It involves a range of treatments, techniques, and exercises that are manually or mechanically administered by a trained professional. Here are seven of the leading physical therapy treatments used today.
1. Manual Therapy
Manual therapy involves hands-on techniques such as massage, joint mobilization, and manipulation. It is used to relieve pain, improve joint movement, and reduce muscle tension. It can also be used to improve circulation and to help patients regain their flexibility and range of motion.
Perhaps the most convenient tool at a physical therapist’s disposal? His/her own hands. This technique comprises a number of different methods, including massage, mobilization, manipulation, and strengthening exercises. Manual therapy is so effective, in fact, that it’s considered by many to be a foundational part of any physical therapy treatment plan.
2. Therapeutic Exercise
Therapeutic exercise is a type of physical therapy that involves specific exercises designed to improve strength, flexibility, and overall movement. These exercises can include activities like stretching, weight training, and resistance band training. They may also involve balance exercises and aerobic conditioning to help patients improve their functional abilities.
One oft-overlooked form of physical therapy that tops the rest in terms of injury prevention? Exercise. Whether introduced as an alternative to today’s sedentary, desk-based lifestyles or as a strengthening tool in response to a specific injury, exercise is used to target weak muscles, address muscular imbalances, and keep aches and pains at bay. One popular form of exercise used by physical therapists to treat disease and promote health? Water exercise, AKA hydrotherapy.
3. Heat and Cold Therapy
Heat and cold therapy are two of the most commonly used physical therapy treatments. Heat therapy is used to promote circulation, relieve muscle tension, and reduce pain. Cold therapy is used to reduce inflammation, decrease swelling, and numb pain.
While the layperson may struggle to understand how best to use hot and cold therapies, physical therapists have the training and knowledge to use both. Typically, ice is used to reduce inflammation and swelling in acute soft tissue injuries because of its ability to constrict blood vessels.
On the other hand, heat is more appropriate for treating tightness and muscular spasms for pain reduction and increased mobility. Heat also enhances tissue flexibility, making it a useful tool for stretching tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
4. Ultrasound Therapy
Ultrasound therapy is a type of physical therapy that uses sound waves to stimulate soft tissue and promote healing. It can be used to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and improve circulation. This type of therapy is commonly used to treat conditions like tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis.
This common PT method uses a wand to apply high-pitched sound waves which promote circulation while generating heat deep within connective tissues. In addition to enhancing the effects of other treatments like exercise and manual therapy, ultrasound is also thought to speed up the ligament healing process.
Phonophoresis, meanwhile, is a technique which uses ultrasound to enhance the delivery of topical medications, such as xylocaine and cortisone.
6. Joint Replacement Therapy
Joint replacement therapy is a type of physical therapy that is used to help patients recover from joint replacement surgeries. This type of therapy involves exercises that are specifically designed to rebuild strength, flexibility, and range of motion after undergoing a joint replacement surgery.
6. Laser Therapy
Physical therapists use low-level lasers to generate wavelengths of light, which stimulate healing. In addition to helping treat inflammation, pain, and muscle fatigue, laser therapy can reduce discomfort during manual joint manipulation.
7. Electrical Stimulation
Electrical stimulation is a treatment that uses electrical currents to promote muscle contraction, improve circulation, and reduce pain. This type of therapy is commonly used in physical therapy to aid in muscle re-education and to help patients recover from neuromuscular injuries.
Also known as ESTIM, this technique involves the application of electrical stimulation to cause otherwise-dormant muscles to contract. Following traumatic injuries and certain types of surgery, ESTIM can help restore function and movement. Electrical currents can also be used at low levels for pain reduction.
Also Massage Therapy:
Massage therapy is a type of physical therapy that involves the manipulation of soft tissues to promote relaxation, reduce muscle tension, and increase circulation. It can be used to relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being.
These seven leading physical therapy treatments offer a range of options for patients who want to improve their physical health and overall well-being. Whether it’s through manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, or heat and cold therapy, there are many ways to relieve pain, improve function and mobility, and maintain optimal physical wellness. If you’re interested in trying physical therapy, be sure to consult with a trained professional who can help you find the right treatment plan to suit your individual needs.