What’s Physical Therapy Really Like?


People often avoid physical therapy. They worry that it will be difficult or unpleasant. Some individuals prefer to hope that their bodies will heal without any intervention. Nonetheless, this type of therapy can offer valuable benefits. It may enable you to identify the true source of the pain, treat it and find solutions with lasting results.

Getting Started

A physical therapist will begin by carefully evaluating your condition. The next step is to develop a plan that outlines the appropriate treatment techniques for you. Such plans have several different goals. They aim to make your joints work properly and reduce the amount of pain that you endure. Therapists also identify ways to reduce the risk of future injuries.

Major Techniques

Physical therapy methods vary based on the specific health problems that a person experiences. After an evaluation reveals the most effective treatment options, a therapist normally educates the patient about these techniques. You’ll learn what to expect and discover how specific methods improve your range of motion. There are about seven common techniques:

  1. A therapist may take steps to raise or lower your body temperature. The application of ice will minimize pain by decreasing inflammation. It also helps joints work properly. On the other hand, heat enhances the flexibility of certain body tissues and prepares them for other physical therapy techniques. It also reduces pain levels.
  2. During the treatment process, a therapist may direct you to exercise regularly. You might need to perform specific exercises after you return home but before the next session. Such efforts increase strength, improve mobility and reduce the likelihood of additional injuries. As time passes, therapists often adjust their exercise recommendations to suit the changing needs of recovering patients.
  3. Some therapy sessions involve laser treatments. These highly focused lights are comparatively gentle. You won’t feel any pain or other physical sensations. Nonetheless, such lasers can have a significant positive impact. They decrease inflammation and help the body heal faster. A laser can also reduce the amount of pain that you experience.
  4. Therapists almost always manually manipulate patients’ bodies. They decrease discomfort and improve flexibility by massaging the tissue. It’s frequently necessary to manipulate joints by hand as well. This gradually eliminates unwanted rigidity. If you undergo this type of treatment, you can expect to feel less pain and eventually gain a greater range of motion.
  5. Some physical therapy sessions involve electrical stimulation. Although this method may sound old-fashioned, it has been improved to deliver appealing results while maximizing comfort. Electrical stimulation uses a continuous low-voltage current to make dormant muscles contract. This helps them return to normal function rather than atrophying after a period of inactivity.
    • Prevents long-term weakness
    • Makes muscles clench temporarily
    • Not painful or dangerous
  6. Although you probably think of ultrasound as an imaging technology, it can also directly help people recover from injuries. Ultrasound equipment produces noises that humans can’t hear. These waves of sound create warmth within deep tissues. Therapists frequently use them when there’s damage to the tissue that connects bones together. They have the capability to greatly reduce discomfort and rigidity.

Before Leaving

When you visit a physical therapist for the last time, he or she will use the above-mentioned methods once more. The next step is to provide you with directions that will help you continue to recover at home. This document usually describes exercises that you can perform without assistance. Be sure to gain a thorough understanding of the appropriate actions and ask questions if necessary.
Physical therapy professionals integrate other exercise programs with their treatment or home recovery plans. For example, they might encourage you to engage in suspension training, yoga or pilates. A number of therapists also teach separate exercise classes. Such programs are often customized to benefit people who need to recover from serious injuries.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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