There are many different forms and variations of treatments in physical therapy but these are the major areas that we at PTRC focus on.
1. Exercise – Exercise is anything you do in addition to your regular daily activity that will improve your flexibility, strength, coordination, or endurance. It even includes changing how you do your regular activities to give you some health benefits. For example, if you park a little farther away from the door of the grocery store, the extra distance you walk is exercise. Physical therapy nearly always involves exercise of some kind that is specifically designed for your injury, illness, condition, or to help prevent future health problems. Exercise can include stretching to reduce stress on joints, core stability exercises to strengthen the muscles of your trunk (your back and abdomen) and hips, lifting weights to strengthen muscles, walking, doing water aerobics, and many other forms of activity. Your physical therapist is likely to teach you how to do an exercise program on your own at home so you can continue to work toward your fitness goals and prevent future problems. Please ask about this benefit.
2. Manual therapy – Manual therapy is a general term for treatment performed with the hands and not with any other devices or machines. The goals of manual therapy include relaxation, less pain, and more flexibility. Manual therapy includes:
- Joint mobilization, which uses slow, measured movements to twist, pull, or push bones and joints into position. This can help loosen tight tissues around a joint and help with flexibility and alignment.
- Joint manipulation, which uses rapid, forceful movements to position the bones and joints. This is a more aggressive treatment. Discuss the pros and cons of manipulation with your doctor or physical therapist.
- Soft tissue mobilization, which includes a variety of treatments to reduce non-bony restrictions in tissues such as muscles, tendons and fascia; to help reduce pain, improve flexibility and improve range of motion.
3. Education – Physical therapy almost always includes education and training in areas such as:
- Performing your daily tasks safely
- Protecting your joints and avoiding reinjury.
- Using assistive devices such as crutches or wheelchairs.
- Doing home exercises designed to help with your injury or condition.
- Making your home safe for you if you have strength, balance, or vision problems.
4. Specialized treatments – In some locations, physical therapists are specially trained to be involved in other types of treatment, including:
- Vestibular rehabilitation, which helps your inner ear respond to changes in your body position. This is helpful if you have problems with vertigo, or a feeling that you or your surroundings are spinning or tilting when there is actually no movement. Our physical therapists can help you get used to the problem so you know when to expect it. And rehab can train your body to know how to react.
- Oncology (cancer care), to help if cancer or treatment for cancer causes you to have problems with movement.
- Cardiac rehabilitation, is a specialist treatment program which consists of monitored exercise to improve your strength and endurance; and education to reduce your risk of further heart problems.
5. Cold and ice – Ice and cold packs are used in physical therapy to relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation from injuries and other conditions. Ice can be used for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. In some cases, ice may be used several times a day. Some therapists also use cooling lotions or spray.
6. Heat – Heat can help relax and heal your muscles and soft tissues by increasing blood circulation. This can be especially helpful if a joint is stiff from osteoarthritis or from being immobilized. Heat can also relax the muscles before exercise. But heat can also increase swelling in an injured area if it is used too soon.
7. Hydrotherapy – Hydrotherapy is the use of water to treat a disease or to maintain health. The term “hydrotherapy” (water therapy) can mean either exercise in the water or using water for care and healing of soft tissues. This type of therapy is based on the theory that water has many properties that give it the ability to heal.
8. Ultrasound – Ultrasound therapy uses high-pitched sound waves to ease muscle spasms and relax and warm muscles before exercise, to help relieve pain and inflammation, and to promote healing.
9. Electrical stimulation – Electrical stimulation is the general term that describes the use of electrical current to create an effect in the body. There are several uses for electrical stimulation.
- Physical therapists sometimes use electrical stimulation at low levels to reduce the sensation of pain. It may work either by “scrambling” pain signals to mask feelings of pain or by causing the body to produce natural pain-killers called endorphins.
- Physical therapists can also use electrical stimulation to cause muscles to contract (tense). This type of therapy can help maintain muscle tone when muscles would otherwise lose strength or help teach muscles to contract again.
- Electrical stimulation is being studied as a way to help with healing of wounds and broken bones.
For more information, Contact Us Today at San Marcos & Wimberley, TX Centers.