What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a type of medical treatment used to help patients regain their physical function after injury or illness. Physical therapists use manual techniques, exercises, and equipment to address a wide range of conditions such as joint sprains, muscle strains, arthritis, back pain, stroke rehabilitation, sports injuries and more. There are a variety of physical therapies available that physical therapists use to optimize patient outcomes. Dry needling, electric stimulation/TENs unit, ultrasound therapy, and occupational therapy are all treatments physical therapists may use to help their patients. Understanding physical therapy treatments and how they can benefit you is a key step in your physical therapy journey.
What types of treatments do they do in physical therapy?
Physical therapists will use a variety of treatments to help patients improve their physical function. These treatments include stretching, strengthening exercises, using heat or cold, soft tissue mobilization and joint mobilization. They may also use assistive devices such as braces or splints to protect the joints from further injury. Physical therapists are experts in evaluating movement patterns and determining which treatment techniques will be most effective for each individual patient.
What is dry needling?
Dry needling is a physical therapy technique that involves inserting thin needles into the body to help relieve pain and improve physical function. It is often used to reduce muscle tension, decrease inflammation, and increase range of motion. This technique is based on traditional Chinese medicine and has become increasingly popular among physical therapists in recent years. Dry needling can be used to treat various conditions, such as neck pain, shoulder pain, and plantar fasciitis.
What is electric stimulation/TENs unit?
Electric stimulation or TENs unit is a physical therapy technique that uses electrical currents to help reduce pain, relax muscles, and improve physical function. It may be used in the physical therapy clinic or at home as part of a rehabilitation program. Electrical stimulation works by stimulating the nerves in the affected area and helping to reduce inflammation and decrease muscle spasm. It can also help increase blood flow and promote healing.
What is ultrasound therapy?
Ultrasound therapy is a physical therapy technique that uses sound waves to help reduce pain and improve physical function. It works by sending sound waves into the body, which can increase tissue temperature and promote blood flow to the affected area. Ultrasound can be used to treat conditions like muscle tension, bursitis, tendonitis, joint pain, and more. It is a safe and effective physical therapy treatment option for many patients.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is a type of medical treatment used to help people improve their ability to carry out daily activities. Occupational therapists use various techniques such as adaptive equipment, therapeutic exercises, and training in self-care skills to help patients who have difficulty with tasks due to physical impairments or developmental disabilities. Occupational therapy can help people regain physical, mental, and sensory functioning so they can return to their normal activities of daily living.
Occupational Therapy versus Physical Therapy
Occupational therapy and physical therapy are both valuable treatments for those recovering from physical injury or illness, but they differ slightly in their approach to treatment. Physical therapists use treatments such as stretching, strengthening exercises, heat/cold therapies, soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, and electric stimulation to help improve physical function. Occupational therapists use adaptive equipment, therapeutic exercises, and training in self-care skills to help patients regain physical, mental, and sensory functioning so they can return to their normal activities of daily living. Both physical therapy and occupational therapy are essential components for helping individuals reach their physical rehabilitation goals.
What is Hand Therapy?
Hand therapy is a physical therapy specialty that focuses on treating conditions and injuries of the hand and upper extremity. Hand therapists use various techniques such as therapeutic exercises, splinting and taping to help patients regain physical function and reduce pain in the affected area. They are also skilled at providing advice on ergonomics, functional activities, and self-care techniques to help prevent future injuries.
Can a physical therapist perform hand therapy?
Yes, physical therapists are highly qualified to perform hand therapy. Physical therapists undergo extensive training in anatomy and physiology, physical therapy modalities and treatments, orthopedic conditions and injuries, and physical rehabilitation. They are also trained in how to assess the physical function of the hands and wrists and apply appropriate treatments that will help improve physical function.
If your condition requires a custom splint or has a complicated rehabilitation protocol like flexor tendon or nerve repair, then a hand therapist may be the better option for you. Hand therapists specialize in treating hand and upper extremity conditions and can provide more advanced treatments than physical therapists. Additionally, they can provide specialized splints to help with recovery or physical function.