Common Misperceptions About Physical Therapy
By: Brooke Smith, DPT
AzOPT Goodyear Clinic Manager
Should you do physical therapy? There are many common misperceptions about what physical therapy entails. Let’s discuss a few common misperceptions and explain how physical therapy can help you get back to the activities you love, without pain!
Myth #1: Physical therapy is the same as receiving a massage
While physical therapy utilizes soft tissue mobilization similar to massage, the main difference is physical therapists are more target specific with their techniques. With soft tissue mobilization, physical therapists look for muscles that are tender to the touch, which means the muscle is in some dysfunction. Therefore, to decrease the tenderness, more pressure is applied to release muscle tension and decrease tenderness by releasing scar tissue and increasing blood flow to the area. Soft tissue mobilization usually includes some discomfort. These techniques are not used on every patient and are injury specific.
Myth #2: Physical therapy is only for athletes or people who had surgery
Physical therapy is useful in treating a large variety of pain and injuries from simple strains/sprains to post operative care. We also treat a large range of the population from pediatric conditions to elderly with a wide range of activity levels. Physical therapy can be helpful to people injured in car accidents, weekend warriors (recreational sport players), pregnant women, seniors, teens, elderly, post-operative, and job related injuries. Physical therapists are also trained to detect symptoms that might require a referral to another healthcare professional to help treat any underlying issues that might be causing the symptoms.
Myth #3: Physical therapists will only use passive therapy and exercise for my problems
Some of the passive techniques people commonly think of are ice, heat, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. While these techniques are utilized, they are used in conjunction with manual techniques and specific exercises to help assist in the healing process. Yes, physical therapy does include exercise, but we use specific exercises to strengthen and stabilize areas of weakness that might be the underlying cause of your symptoms.
Myth #4: Physical therapy will be painful
It is possible to experience temporary soreness from manual techniques or exercises. However, these effects should not last more than 24 hours and the end result is usually relief of your initial symptoms/pain. Physical therapists use specific techniques and exercises to assist the body by aiding with the normal healing process and help it rebuild to function normally. Physical therapy is safe and the soreness/discomfort will be minor and temporary with the goal of decreasing your symptoms.
I hope after reading this article you have a better understanding of physical therapy. If pain is limiting your daily activities, please contact AzOPT at (623) 242-6908 or visit our website to schedule your evaluation.