Does Physical Therapy Help? 9 Key Benefits to Know

Woman Undergoing Physical Therapy

What do knee pain, pregnancy discomfort, and diabetes have in common? They can all be treated through physical therapy.

Physical therapy treats chronic diseases, injuries, and deformities through specialized techniques. A physical therapist (PT) uses massages, stretches, exercises, and electric currents to alleviate pain.

What does physical therapy help? Keep reading to learn about the ways physical therapy can benefit your body.

What to Expect During Physical Therapy

If you’re unsure of what to expect during your first physical therapy session, don’t worry. Let’s review what goes down during a typical physical therapy appointment to help you feel prepared.

Before you head to your appointment, compile a list of medical information your therapist should know. Writing down everything beforehand makes you less likely to forget something important.

Some key elements to consider before your physical therapy appointment are:

  • How often your symptoms occur, and if your symptoms have gotten worse
  • When your pain began, how often you feel discomfort, and what makes it worse
  • What decreases your pain
  • Things you have been doing to manage your symptoms thus far
  • Current medications and underlying health problems

When it’s time to head to your appointment, dress smart. You’ll be doing exercises and stretches, so wear clothes that are easy to move around in. Wear shorts if your pain is located in your hips, knees, or ankles.

During your physical therapy session, your PT will perform a physical exam to determine the source of your discomfort. He or she may measure your balance, range of motion, palpation, and strength. If you’re visiting a physical therapist for concussion concerns, you may also receive neurological screening.

Once your PT has determined what’s going on, he or she will work with you to develop a treatment plan. The course of action may include various therapeutic strategies like stretches, electrical stimulation, and exercises.

How Does Physical Therapy Help?

Once you’ve found the right PT for you, you can start enjoying the numerous physical therapy benefits. We’ve outlined the top nine benefits of physical therapy below. If you’re looking for more PT facts, find out more here.

1. Avoid Surgery

Physical therapy is an excellent alternative to surgery. Most people will only resort to surgery if physical therapy is unable to heal the injury. 

It’s best to avoid surgery whenever possible. A trip to the hospital is expensive and time-consuming. There’s also the risk of complications during or after surgery. On the other hand, physical therapy is natural, covered by most health insurances, and requires no downtime.

Researchers at Harvard conducted a study of 169 men and women. The results showed no differences in pain or physical function between those who underwent surgery and those who participated in physical therapy. 25% of those who had surgery had follow-up surgeries or experienced surgery-related infections.

2. Reduce Widespread Pain

Physical therapy incorporates physical movements and manual therapy techniques to restore joint function and muscle movement. Your PT may focus on specific areas that are injured to make them stronger and reduce inflammation, resulting in less pain. 

A bonus of physical therapy is that it’s difficult to only work on one area of your body. Stretching and taping techniques are beneficial for the whole body. While physical therapy works to decrease specific sources of pain, it can make your entire body stronger.

3. Increase Mobility

Mobility is a person’s ability to control his or her range of motion based on muscle movements. Better mobility means stronger muscles. 

Physical therapy strengthens muscles and joints through specialized techniques. Increased mobility prepares a person’s body for physical stress and reduces the risk of injury. Enhancing mobility also helps people with everyday movements, like standing and walking.

4. Improve Chronic Health Conditions

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in American men and women. Physical therapists help patients get into heart-healthy exercises outside of their PT sessions, like jogging and walking. Physical therapy’s aerobic and strength techniques, combined with better lifestyle habits, decrease a person’s risk of heart-related death. 

Physical therapy techniques are recommended for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Your PT can use physical therapy stretches to increase lung capacity during aerobic exercises and reduce shortness of breath. 

Moving your joints, restoring muscle strength, and increasing balance result in lower blood glucose levels. PTs work with diabetes patients to help them learn how to regulate glucose levels by leading a healthier life.

5. Recover From and Reduce Injuries

Physical therapists work with athletes to ensure a safe return to their sport. Many athletes continue physical therapy after their injuries are healed to maintain strong joints and muscles. Regular PT sessions also prevent future injuries. 

6. Lower Pregnancy Discomfort

Pregnant women can use physical therapy to eliminate discomfort and ensure a smoother birth. Back pain affects 50% to 70% of pregnant women. Physical therapy helps pregnant women with posture, joint alignment, muscle strength, and flexibility.

Post-partum women can also use physical therapy as a recovery tool. The treatment restores muscles that weakened during pregnancy. Physical therapy makes the abdominals and pelvic muscles stronger to prevent pain and bladder problems that frequently occur after childbirth.

7. Decrease Medications

With long-term pain and surgery comes a dependence on pain medication, specifically opioids. While opioids are intended to help people, over 90 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day.

Physical therapy lowers your risk of developing opioid dependence. Physical therapy uses natural techniques to relieve discomfort. Some patients may continue to use pain medications, but usually, over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen are enough.

Boost Your Health

So, does physical therapy help? If you’re committed, physical therapy can do wonders for your body. It’s a natural and well-trusted way to improve your health and reduce your risk of injuries.

Keep exploring our website for more health-related topics. From improving sleep quality to oral hygiene tips, we’ve got the health hacks you’re looking for.

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