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When Physical Therapy Can Help

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What Happens in Physical Therapy

So, could you benefit from a few sessions? If you have a pain that lingers after a week's rest, get a consultation, says FITNESS advisory board member Marty Jaramillo, a founder and CEO of I.C.E. Sports Therapy in New York City. Even though you may not need a doctor's referral to get an appointment, Dr. Wright says it's best to see your MD first for a diagnosis, then follow up with a physical therapist.

If you've never been to physical therapy, picture a facility not unlike your local health club. Most clinics are housed in gyms, hospitals, or private offices and contain equipment such as treadmills, exercise balls, weights, and foam rollers. For your first appointment, ask what you should wear; comfortable, loose clothing and sneakers are usually best, says Susan Chalcraft, president of the Washington State chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Once you've checked in, you'll meet your therapist, who will "test your strength, range of motion, joint stability, and flexibility to determine what underlying issues may have contributed to your injury," Jaramillo explains. After the evaluation, your therapist will come up with a treatment plan to rehab the injured area, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and prevent you from getting hurt in the future.

On subsequent visits you'll perform a series of stretching and strengthening exercises. Your treatment may also call for ice or heat, massage, ultrasound (to reduce inflammation and pain), and/or electrical stimulation (a painless electrical current directed at the injured muscle to improve blood flow, increase strength, and relieve discomfort). You'll be asked to do the exercises a few times a week on your own. "There's only so much we can accomplish during an hour," Chalcraft notes. "That's why we ask you to work out at home too."

Minor injuries -- a strained glute or an ankle twist -- should feel significantly better within five visits (two per week), each of which lasts from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the clinic, Chalcraft says. More involved conditions, including tendinitis and plantar fasciitis, usually require about 12 visits over the course of four to six weeks.

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roxyjones7 wrote:

Great article. I read a blog post about the history of physical therapy and it is really what sparked me to get going! http://www.performancerehabnj.com/20140505-the-history-of-physical-medicine-and-rehabilitation/

8/18/2014 02:12:14 PM Report Abuse
jleavitt84 wrote:

I have a friend that his been going to rehab for the last few months. He was really nervous about it too because he didn't know what to expect. After a few sessions he really started to enjoy it and he started liking his trainer. He is now almost done and he is so glad that he did it. http://www.advancedphysicaltherapy.org/physiotherapy/

2/21/2014 04:16:56 PM Report Abuse
ealexander321 wrote:

My doctor diagnosed me with back strain, sent me to PT(physical therapy). PT said doctors always put that down and rely on them to figure out what is really the problem. 1st they said- strain of the sack the encases the spinal cord, then that it was trigger points (tight muscles). He used his thumb and pressed hard on my lower back where it hurt. Unfortunately it appears I actually had a bulging disc and they popped it and caused paralysis. I had to have surgery. Too bad couldn't get MRI 1st.

5/13/2010 03:00:11 PM Report Abuse
mcanna wrote:

Great article! As an under 30 year old woman, who also had hip surgery, PT has been a godsend. Even prior to surgery, going to PT helped out with pain. The PT's that I have seen have been are, for the most part, active individuals who understand that you want to get back to activity and feel better, in a different way than a doctor does.

5/11/2010 10:46:58 AM Report Abuse
deadicateddee wrote:

FYI, not only the elderly have hip replacements, one year ago at 38 I had a total hip replacement. I'm guessing that was just a 'play on words'...

2/25/2010 08:34:11 PM Report Abuse

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