Physical therapy (PT) is therapeutic treatment of symptoms to the human musculoskeletal system. Patients with these symptoms are, supported by exercises or several categories of physical therapies, helped to improve mobility and reduce pain.
Physical therapy plays an important role in the treatment of various physical symptoms that hinder a person in everyday life while moving. This can be in work, household, hobbies or sports. The physical therapist helps with recovery of an injury or rehabilitation after an operation. In addition, the physical therapist plays an important role in prevention, information and advice.
Especially problems to the musculoskeletal system are treated by the physical therapist, such as:
- Back problems: low back pain, hernia or sciatica.
- Neck problems: a stiff neck or whiplash.
- Knee problems: ruptured cruciate ligaments.
- Joint wear: worn knees, hips and shoulders.
- Sports injuries: sprained ankle or strained hamstring.
In some of these joint problems, such as worn knees or hips, surgery may eventually be needed to remove the symptoms. Physical therapy attempts to postpone this as long as possible. In addition to these known problems with the musculoskeletal system, physical therapy can also be used when a person suffers from claudication, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, urinary incontinence, COPD and asthma.
After surgery to a joint, such as a cruciate ligament reconstruction, shoulder operation or the placement of a knee prosthesis, the mobility and stability of the joint are temporarily reduced. Physical therapy ensures that the joint can be used again in the same way as before the surgery.
The physical therapist carries out a physical examination, draws up a treatment plan and discusses that plan with the patient. Treatment is then followed by means of exercise therapy (movement therapy), massage therapy and therapy using physical means (for example, electrotherapy, infrared therapy, thermotherapy and UV therapy). These can be applied separately or in combination.
The purpose of the treatments can be:
- Reducing pain.
- Improving mobility, muscular strength, stability and/or functions of the body.
- Being able to function independently again.
- Optimal functioning within the boundaries of a chronic condition.
- There are many specializations within physical therapy, such as pediatric physical therapy, company physical therapy, labor physical therapy, manual therapy, edema therapy, sports physical therapy, pelvic floor physical therapy, psychosomatic physical therapy, geriatric physical therapy and myofascial therapy.