Physical therapy is a safe and effective treatment for many health conditions, from chronic pain to sports injuries. It strengthens your muscles and makes you more flexible, bringing relief to the hurting areas.

Physical therapy is so much safer than pain medications, which only provide temporary relief and come with cardiovascular and stomach bleeding risks. Its non-intrusive nature is also a clear advantage over surgery, so it should be the first line of defense against pain (unless surgery is clearly needed).

What to Expect from Physical Therapy

The physical therapist spends the first session conducting an initial examination comprised of a variety of strength, balance and range-of-motion tests. The results of the tests, coupled with a thorough review of your medical history, helps to identify the source of the pain.

These tests are extremely important because sometimes an illnesses in one part of your body causes pain in a completely different and seemingly unrelated area. Cardiac, respiratory, and gastrointestinal illnesses are especially guilty of this.

Once a therapist has identified the cause of your pain, he develops a personalized treatment plan. The plan is tailored to fit into your everyday life and includes short term and long term goals, ensuring that you stay on track long after your last physical therapy session.

The number of physical therapy sessions you need varies depending on the severity of your condition. On average, 6 to 12 sessions are enough to decrease pain, improve flexibility and range of motion, and increase strength.

Getting Ready for Physical Therapy

As a patient, there are some things you should do before starting physical therapy. For starters, check your health insurance to see what’s covered and any amount you’ll need to pay. Since some insurance copayments are quite expensive, this step avoids expensive surprises down the line.

Once you’ve figured out the financial component, schedule your initial examination either by phone or in person; plan for an hour. Also, remember to bring a complete list of medications that you’re taking as this might factor into your course of treatment. Once you and your therapist have decided on a plan moving forward, schedule several appointments over the next few weeks to ensure progress

On the day of the appointment, wear comfortable clothes that don’t restrict your movement. Better still, wear something that allows the therapist to access the affected body parts with ease.

In today’s world, arthritis, joint pain, back pain and other injuries are no longer a life sentence of taking expensive pain medications. In many cases, physical therapy provides a wide variety of safe and effective treatment options to relieve pain without the dangerous side effects that are often associated with medication.

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