When you hear the word “physical therapy,” you may think about professional athletes. However, many injuries requiring physical therapy occur from everyday activities. Physical therapists treat a number of different injuries and conditions. You may not have been aware that physical therapists can even treat concussions, vertigo, headaches, urinary incontinence, and more!
Physical therapy helps relieve pain, prevent stiffness, enhance range of motion, and improve strength, coordination and mobility.
There are five major areas of physical therapy:
- Orthopedic physical therapy
- Geriatric physical therapy
- Neurological physical therapy
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation
- Pediatric physical therapy
Physical therapists help those who have been injured recover from their conditions and return to their pain-free lives. Physical therapists prescribe fitness programs for each specific condition or injury.
Here are the most common injuries that are treated by physical therapists:
Sprains can be caused to anyone at any time. Some people might experience a sprain during a basketball game, while others may experience a sprain from simply taking a wrong step. You can even sprain your thumb from texting or playing video games! The type and severity of a sprain depends on the activity that caused it.
If you experience a sprain, you might feel a pop or tear when the injury occurs. Pain, swelling, bruising, and the inability to move your joint are some of the common symptoms. A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments are tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect the bones together in the joints. Sprains are most common in the ankle.
Treatment plans for sprains typically involve resting the injured area icing it, wearing a bandage or device that compresses the area, and medicines. However, lack of activity tends to leave the area weak. Further down the road, physical therapy may be recommended. Physical therapists can help strengthen and rebuild the affected area. Physical therapy can also reduce the risk of future sprains. Without physical therapy, you increase the risk of more frequent sprains.
A fracture is a fancy term for a broken bone. Bones can be completely or partially fractured in many ways (crosswise, lengthwise, in multiple pieces). Bones are strong, but they can slightly bend when there is a strong outside force applied. However, if the force is too strong, the bones can snap. The severity of a fracture depends on the force of impact that caused the bones to break.
Fractures will usually require a cast or sling. Once the cast or sling is removed, physical therapy may be recommended. The overall goal is to improve mobility and increase the range of motion.
Torn Ligaments or Tendons
A ligament is a short band of tough, flexible tissue, which is made up of many individual fibers and connects the body’s bones. Although ligaments are flexible, they cannot stretch very far. Tendons are also made of tough, flexible tissue, but their job is to move the bone or structure. Torn ligaments and tendons are commonly seen in sports injuries and can occur at any joint.
Many times, a patient may need to undergo surgery to repair the ligament or tendon prior to physical therapy. Physical therapy can help improve the patient’s range of motion through weight lifting, stretching, and more. Before creating a treatment plan for a torn ligament or tendon, the physical therapist will need to consider the patient’s age, level of regular activity, physical fitness, overall health, and the injury itself.
Arthritis is a connective tissue disorder that can worsen with age. Arthritis symptoms include pain, swelling, reduced range of motion, and stiffness. The onset and progression of arthritis tend to vary by patient, but every patient will experience joint inflammation. During inflammation, the joint’s protective cartilage wears away, which will eventually lead to loss of movement, loss of mobility, and significant pain.
There is no cure for arthritis, but physical therapy can help alleviate some of the symptoms. Physical therapists will work directly with patients and will often teach them how to protect the joint, manage the pain, and conserve their energy.
Dislocated joints are often a result of a bad fall, an auto accident, or from playing sports. Dislocations can easily be treated by popping the injured joint back into place and should be treated right away, but that doesn’t solve the underlying issue. The area must be strengthened and conditioned to ensure the cartilage isn’t further weakened and damaged – which is where physical therapy comes in.
South Texas Spinal Institute
At the South Texas Spinal Clinic, you will find the most dedicated and highly qualified team of licensed physical therapists in San Antonio. With our state-of-the art technology and patient-centered care, our physical therapists are committed to making sure you get back to your normal lifestyle. Call (210)614-6432 to schedule your appointment.