Your physical therapist may apply various treatment methods to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and increase mobility. As a specialist in physical therapy like our friends at AmeriWell Clinics can explain, these are the most common interventions your therapist may recommend to promote your recovery.
Most therapy sessions begin with the application of wet heat to the affected body part. Heat is necessary to:
- Improve circulation to bring vital nutrients to the affected parts
- Increase muscle flexibility in preparation for movement
- Reduce muscle tension and spasms that cause pain
Therapists may use their hands to knead or apply gentle pressure to afflicted body parts. Manual manipulation of the muscles promotes blood flow and eliminates tension that leads to discomfort and pain.
The therapist may move the joint in various directions without assistance from the patient. A gradual increase in pressure against the joint helps to improve its range of motion.
The therapist moves a subtly vibrating wand on the skin over the problem area. The vibration moves waves through the skin to reach the affected site, where it relaxes muscles, breaks up scar tissue, reduces inflammation, and alleviates pain.
A therapist may run gentle electrical currents into muscles through electrodes on the skin’s surface. Although the resulting stimulation can reduce pain and swelling, it also improves the patient’s range of motion by preventing muscle atrophy from lack of use.
Traction can relieve neck and back pain by creating more space between vertebrae pressing on spinal nerves. Therapists may use mechanical devices or their hands to decompress target areas of the spine to treat pinched nerves, herniated discs, sciatica, and a wide range of back problems.
A large percentage of physical therapy sessions involves various exercises to increase flexibility, range of motion, and strength. In some instances, patients remain passive while therapists stretch and pull their body parts to improve muscle flexibility. At other times, patients actively participate in exercises that may involve force resistance, muscle stretching, or movement repetitions to increase strength and endurance. Therapists usually recommend exercises that patients can perform at home to help maintain the momentum of their therapy sessions and improve their progress.
Ice packs are usually helpful when inflammation is most significant at the outset of therapy. Once therapy commences and acute inflammation is under control, ice applications at the end of each session can help prevent inflammation leading to movement restriction that the treatment may cause. This inflammation is usually minor, but it can cause temporary discomfort.
Schedule an appointment for an evaluation with a physical therapist who can recommend a treatment plan that ensures your healing.