Top Six Reasons To See a Physical Therapist

Why would someone go to a physical therapist? Do you ever wonder if you might benefit from physical therapy but are unsure whether it’s right for you? Here, we’ll look at some of the most popular reasons why people turn to physical therapy to help them reduce pain, enjoy greater mobility and get back to a more active lifestyle.

If you’re reading this and live in the North Jersey region, you’ll be happy to hear that the respected team at Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy offers physical therapy services at four convenient locations throughout the region. Our Oakland, Wayne, Fair Lawn, and Closter offices all feature convenient hours including evening and weekend appointments, so you can seamlessly fit your therapy into your busy life.

How Does Physical Therapy Work?

Before we dive into the many reasons why people turn to physical therapy for help to improve their conditions and mobility, let’s figure out what is involved with physical therapy appointments.

Physical therapists are highly trained healthcare professionals who have studied ways to help patients become stronger, more flexible and generally lead healthier lives.

Physical therapy helps strengthen targeted parts of the body so it can better support itself with better range of motion and mobility. This can relieve pressure points which cause pain and better align the body to function properly. A side benefit of this therapy is that by encouraging the body to be stronger and more flexible, you can also help to prevent future injuries. This is one of the reasons why athletes often rely on the help of a physical therapist.

But you don’t need to be an athlete or even extremely active to enjoy the benefits of physical therapy. Your physical therapist will customize your treatment plan to account for your conditions, your limitations and your current physical state. Physical therapy utilizes a number of techniques and strategies to achieve these goals, including:

  • Manual therapy such as massage therapy
  • Stretching
  • Core strengthening exercises
  • Resistance exercises including weight lifting
  • Aerobics
  • Nutrition and lifestyle management

Now that you have an idea of what physical therapy involves, let’s look at some of the common reasons why people seek the help of a physical therapist.

Managing Pain

One of the most popular and common reasons people visit a physical therapist is to help improve chronic pain conditions from back and neck pain to hip and leg discomfort. With stretching and strengthening exercises along with a host of other therapies like massage, patients can experience great improvements with regular visits to their physical therapist. Physical therapy can also be a good alternative to risky surgery or relying on potentially addictive prescription pain medications. Patients can also benefit from improved mobility thanks to these tested techniques. Whether you’re looking to avoid surgery or want help with a chronic pain condition like arthritis, physical therapy is worth exploring.

Recovery after Accident or Injury

Physical therapy is often associated with treatment post-accident and there’s a good reason for this link. Whether it’s whiplash from a car accident or back pain after a slip and fall, physical therapy can help strengthen the supporting muscles surrounding an injury, allowing it time to heal.

Sports injuries are another common reason for seeing a physical therapist. From competitive athletes to weekend warriors, sports injuries happen due to overuse or an acute issue. Physical therapists are trained to help improve a variety of sports injuries, everything from rotator cuff and Achilles tendon injuries to tennis elbow and plantar fasciitis. You don’t have to let common sports injuries like shin splints, strains or groin pulls sideline your activities. Not only can physical therapy help you to heal quicker, but it can also ensure that you heal properly and return to your best form.

Rehabilitation Following Stroke

A stroke can weaken and disable many parts of the body and physical therapy is one of the most widely used strategies for helping a patient regain mobility and other functions after a “brain attack.” From keeping muscles fit and stimulated to relearning everyday skills by retraining the brain, there are many benefits to physical therapy for stroke recovery.

Healthy Aging and Fall Prevention

Physical therapy is helpful for more than just healing from an injury. In fact, seeing a physical therapy can actually help prevent injuries and accidents. This is especially true for seniors. Did you know that, according to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of death for people over 65? While we might make lifestyle changes to help prevent heart attack or stroke, too often this serious threat is overlooked.

As we age, we lose muscle more rapidly and coordination and balance become more challenging. Through specially-designed geriatric exercises, physical therapists use stretching, light cardio and strength training to improve flexibility, endurance and balance that often decline as we get older.

Aid in Managing Health Conditions

Breast cancer, incontinence, fibromyalgia – these are all health conditions that require treatment and care from a team of healthcare professionals. Oftentimes, a physical therapist can be a beneficial part of that care team. For breast cancer patients in recovery, there can be a number of health impacts that remain long after the cancer has been addressed. Physical therapy strategies have been developed to assist with fatigue, surgery scarring, joint pain and headaches.

Urinary incontinence affects around 13 million people in the US and can have a major impact on quality of life. It can feel like a hopeless condition but physical therapy may be helpful as it focuses on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles which weaken with age and due to other factors such as childbirth and physical fitness.

Currently there is no cure for fibromyalgia, which is characterized by chronic pain, fatigue and mood issues. With limited treatment options, physical therapy can be one of the few places fibromyalgia patients can turn for relief. Regular physical therapy sessions can help minimize the stiffness patients often experience. Exercise with a therapist can also help to improve energy levels and pain can be addressed through a number of physical therapy treatments ranging from targeted deep tissue massage to hydrotherapy.

Reducing Headache Frequency

Physical therapy is typically associated with strengthening and stretching the muscles of the arms, legs and back. So how could exercises such as these help with an internal issue in the head like chronic headache pain? In fact, physical therapy goes well beyond just exercises to include massage work, hot and cold therapies and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). To begin, your physical therapist will help you determine which type of headache you suffer from because each requires a specific approach. Once this is determined, your physical therapist will create a customized plan. For instance, tension headache frequency may be reduced by addressing posture issues and learning relaxation techniques. Cervicogenic headaches, on the other hand, may be helped with neck strengthening exercises.

As you can see, there are many reasons to visit a physical therapist. In fact, there’s even more reasons than the ones listed above! The important thing to understand about physical therapy is that it works best when it’s consistent and your appointments are frequent. This doesn’t need to be a long-term commitment, but frequent sessions over a few months can provide the best benefits. That’s why it’s important to find a convenient physical therapy location close by with flexible hours to set yourself up for success. If you live in North Jersey, Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy offers four convenient locations in Oakland, Wayne, Fair Lawn, and Closter to make it easier to maintain your physical therapy schedule. With supportive services from chiropractic to acupuncture, Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy is your one-stop comprehensive resource for eliminating pain and getting back to the life you want to live. Reach out today to start the healing process!