What does a physical therapist do?

Physical therapists tailor their treatment plan to the problems they find during your initial evaluation. Treatment begins at the first appointment and may include modalities to reduce pain and swelling such as ice, ultrasound with medication, electrical stimulation with medication, and/or manual therapy (hands-on) techniques. Manual therapy techniques may include soft tissue mobilization or massage, scar mobilization, joint mobilization, manipulation, and muscle energy techniques, among others.

Your physical therapist will also introduce specific exercises to help reduce pain and improve movement. This home exercise program will be tweaked and modified throughout your physical therapy sessions, and they are the key to both short-term and long-term success. Some exercises will help improve flexibility, while others may focus on balance, strengthening, general conditioning, and improving muscle endurance.

Physical therapy involves a lot of education regarding your diagnosis, issues, and treatment approaches to assist you in setting goals and taking charge of your own treatment plan. At every visit you will receive some type of movement education as well to address your posture, ergonomics at home and work, home and/or work activity training and simulation, body mechanics training, and sport specific activities.