Physical therapy is an important part of a nonsurgical approach to restore, maintain, and promote overall health. Working with a doctor, a physical therapist (PT) will help patients who have suffered an accident, injury, or disease, or those recovering from surgery.
What is physical therapy?
Physical therapists (PTs) evaluate an individual’s movement, interaction of all parts of the body, and body types. Physical therapy can help restore function, relieve pain, and improve mobility. This therapy also helps restore muscle balance and good spinal alignment by:
- stretching tight muscles
- strengthening weak muscles
- restoring mobility to stiff joints
- relieving strain on ligaments
How it works
After reviewing your medical history, the PT will evaluate strength, range of motion, balance, coordination, posture, and more. With an understanding of body mechanics, the PT customizes a treatment plan to meet your needs. The goal is to improve function in your daily activities; the patient’s progress in this way is carefully tracked.
Treatment may include exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles, and to improve endurance. Manual therapies include massage and mobilization. Other therapies may be electric stimulation, physical conditioning, ice/heat packs, and traction. Your PT may design a home exercise program, or teach you how to use devices like crutches, prosthesis, or wheelchairs if needed. Patient education may include good posture, safe work habits, and prevention of sports injuries. Recovery takes time and commitment, and varies with each patient.
What you can do
About 50% of the success from surgery is the contribution from the patient. Many things can enhance the probability of a successful outcome from surgery. You should discuss these options with your doctor and PT:
- Strengthening the muscles in your spine before surgery with physical therapy or a home exercise program
- Stopping smoking
- Achieving optimal weight before surgery
- Evaluating the quality of bones and treating conditions such as osteoporosis
- Helping to reduce depression and stress
- Giving proper medical attention to other health problems such as diabetes, heart trouble, high blood pressure, etc