10 Physical Therapy Facts Everyone Should Know

Physical therapy (PT), otherwise known as physiotherapy, is defined as the treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods including massage, heat treatment, as well as exercise. Let’s dive in and learn some less commonly known facts about physical therapy.

1 – Let’s begin with the definition of pain. According to the International Association for the Study of Pain or IASP, “pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, unique to every individual, associated with actual or potential tissue damage.” For our purposes, this means that pain is a complex behavioral experience and not just a physical symptom.

2 – Pain is a complex behavioral experience. The development or maintenance of persistent, chronic pain is generally owing to an individual facing prolonged exposure to physical or non-physical stressors. Though our tissues play a role in the pain experience, it is likely that persistent pain is due to a multisystem issue, not simply a tissue issue.

3 – There are numerous types of physical therapy. There are a number of specialties that address different types of injuries and treat various parts of the body. Examples include: acute care, cardiovascular and pulmonary rehab, orthopedic, lymphedema management, neurologic rehabilitation, post-operative care, and wound care.

4 – Physical therapists are trained in massage. However, this isn’t the same massage that we’ve come to know at a spa. A massage from a physical therapist is intended to reduce tightness and work on tissue mobility of an inflamed or painful muscle.

5 – Physical therapy can reduce treatment costs for patients. According to the Health Services Research journal, patients with lower back pain who turned to physical therapy as a treatment first reported, on average, 72% fewer costs within the first year than those who did not.

6 – Physical therapy works to help prevent injury. Although many people think physical therapists only aim to rehabilitate injuries, they actually work to prevent injuries as well by educating patients on safer movements and motions.

7- Pain is a “whole person” experience. For people experiencing persistent pain, it is often less about what is happening at the local site of pain and more about the person as a whole. If a provider is only focused on the local site of pain and not the big picture of your well-being, you might consider seeking care from another provider.

8 – An area of the brain (somatosensory homunculus) provides us with a visual representation of ourselves. This area functions like a map, helpings us to identify where our body is in space. When experience pain, or any other symptoms associated with pain (stiffness, ache, tension), our brain has difficulty localizing these maps and they become less precise, often leading to further symptoms and/or altered movement patterns.

9 – The average course of care is between 7 to 10 visits. Within that period, the patient has enough time to be diagnosed and treated and given the opportunity to settle into the PT routine.

10 – Nearly 50% of all Americans over the age of 18 develop musculoskeletal issues that can last longer than 3 months. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone with a musculoskeletal issue visits a PT, but a majority would benefit from physical therapy.

Our specialists provide sports medicine training to area high schools and athletic organizations, as well as active individuals. We focus on educating patients on injury prevention, sports performance development, and rehabilitation. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call our office at 616-738-3884.