What Types of Conditions Do Physical Therapists Treat? - Back To Motion. Denver Physical Therapy. (2023)

Physical therapists are trained professionals that evaluate and develop regimens to treat abnormal-based physical functions that are related to or stem from injuries, condition, disease, and/or disability. These medical professionals are specially trained in diagnosing physical-based abnormalities, restoring physical levels of function and mobility, maintaining the functionality of the body, and promoting proper function through physical activities. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn about the specifics of the conditions that physical therapists treat.

What Orthopedic Conditions Do Physical Therapists Treat?

Physical therapists often treat conditions related to the orthopedic system. This includes the muscles, ligaments, bones, tendons, and joints.

The treatment places a special emphasis on building up strength, improving flexibility, and providing a boost to the body’s range of motion. The following outlines the orthopedic-based conditions that a physical therapist will assist with:

  1. Arthritis
  2. Back Pain
  3. Bursitis
  4. Carpal Tunnel Issues and Syndrome
  5. Collar Problems
  6. Elbow Issues
  7. Foot Complications
  8. Hip Problems and Replacement Surgery Recovery
  9. Neck Strains and Sprains
  10. Joint Conditions and Diseases
  11. Knee Conditions and Diseases
  12. Repetitive Strain Injuries and Recovery
  13. Shoulder Issues and Conditions
  14. Sciatica
  15. Tennis Elbow

What Neurological Issues Do Physical Therapists Treat?

The nervous system is a highly complex and extremely sophisticated system in the body that aids in the regulation of bodily functions. When an individual suffers from a neurological disease or injury, it could detrimentally impact many of the body’s functions – from eating and speaking to memory, walking, and even breathing.

Physical therapists treat neurological conditions and injuries so that function may be regained, activities may be performed, and independence may be maintained. The following identifies the main neurological issues that physical therapists treat:

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  1. ALS
  2. Alzheimer’s Disease
  3. Cerebral Palsy
  4. Concussions
  5. Dementia
  6. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
  7. Multiple Sclerosis
  8. Stroke
  9. Trigeminal Neuralgia Issues
  10. Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  11. Vertigo

What Type of Autoimmune Issues Do Physical Therapists Treat?

Disorders of the immune system result in either extremely low and abnormal or extremely high and abnormal activity within the immune system.

When overactivity occurs, the body attacks and damages the tissues, therein. If there is not enough activity, an immune deficiency occurs.

This decreases the body’s unique ability to fight off potentially harmful invaders and results in a very high vulnerability to infections.

Physical therapists are able to treat autoimmune diseases so that the sufferer experiences far less severe symptoms; however, they are unable to cure these diseases. Examples of autoimmune diseases that PTs treat include the following:

  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Graves’ Disease
  • Gullian-Barre Syndrome
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Lupus
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Raynaud’s Syndrome
  • Vasculitis

What Are the Most Common Physical Therapy Treatments?

There are several unique treatments that physical therapists specialize in. The following outlines the most common of these and a brief explanation of each:

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  1. Manual Therapy – This physical therapy treatment uses the hands in order to assist patients. Examples include massage, manipulation, mobilization techniques, and simply assisting with exercises that are designed to strengthen.
  2. Electrical Stimulation – This is often identified among physical therapists as “ESTIM”. It utilizes electrical-based stimulation in order to push the muscles to contract. This type of therapy is known to restore function in the body and improve the ability to move. It may be used for paid reduction in many individuals.
  3. Exercise – Physical therapists use a variety of exercises to help in targeting muscles that are weak, muscular-based imbalances, and to treat pain. Exercises are capable of strengthening and aiding in the recovery process.
  4. Laser Therapy – Physical therapists are capable of using low frequency laser systems in order to produce wavelengths of light. This light helps in stimulating healing within the body. Laser therapy is able to help with inflammation, muscle fatigue, pain, and other types of discomfort.
  5. Hot and Cold Therapy – Cold therapy helps in reducing inflammation and swelling. This is because it helps in constricting the blood vessels within the body. Heat helps in treating tightness and muscular-based spasms. This helps to reduce pain and increase overall mobility. Heat increases the pliability of tissues which helps in stretching the muscles, tendons, and the ligaments through other types of treatment sessions.
  6. Traction – This therapy involves a form of decompression that aids in alleviating pressure in the spinal region. This is a very productive form of therapy for people who have compressed disks, sciatica, herniated discs, and pinched nerves.
  7. Ultrasound Therapy – Many physical therapists use ultrasound therapy to treat their patients. This projects very high-pitched sound waves in the body that aid in promoting circulation. Additionally, it generates a deep amount of heat down within the connective tissues. For individuals that have ligament injuries, ultrasound treatments help in speeding up the healing process. Topical medications such as cortisone may also be delivered with ultrasound technology in a process referred to as phonophoresis.

What Does Physical Therapy Treatment Heal?

Physical therapy treatments are considered suitable for individuals that have sprains, fractures, bursitis, tendonitis, and chronic medical problems. It is also considered to be ideal for those that are in rehabilitation or are in recovery from certain types of medical problems or surgery.

Unlike medical treatments that focus on simply treating symptoms, physical therapy treatments address the core issue and try to improve the functionality of the body by using it the way it is intended to be used.

While medical treatments sometimes go with physical therapy treatments, this is not always the case.

Are There Different Types of Physical Therapy?

Yes, there are various types of physical therapy. The most common are as follows:

  • Rehabilitative Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Physical Therapy
  • Hand Therapy
  • Manual Physical Therapy
  • Pediatric Physical Therapy
  • Neurological Physical Therapy
  • Geriatric Physical Therapy
  • Orthopedic Physical Therapy
  • Vestibular Physical Therapy
  • Cardiovascular Physical Therapy
  • Pulmonary Physical Therapy

What Are the Main Branches of Physical Therapy?

In short, there are about 8 different branches of physical therapy. There may be more, but in terms of common branches, they are as follows:

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  • Brain Disorders
  • Bone Health
  • Congenital Conditions
  • General Physical Medicine
  • Joint Health
  • Nerve Injuries
  • Pain Therapy
  • Sports Injuries

What are the Main Focuses of Physical Therapy Treatments?

The main focus on all physical therapy treatments is to prevent injuries, optimize the performance of the body, and to help patients retain motion and strength through the means of various types of exercises, massages, and various other treatment techniques. In short, physical therapy sessions are designed to get the body back to where it needs to be to move easily and perform everyday activities.

How Long Do Physical Therapy Sessions Last?

Generally speaking, most physical therapy sessions last as little as 30 minutes or as long as 60 minutes. It depends on the condition or injury that is being treated. It also depends on how well the patient is progressing through the program.

Many patients may need a little extra time in their sessions.

In the first session, the patient will undergo an orientation and a therapy plan will be set up. It is during this session that you can ask what to expect with your sessions and how long each of the sessions should last.

How Many Times a Week Should Physical Therapy Be Done?

In the beginning of a physical therapy program, three sessions a week are advised. After a time, this may go down to two sessions.

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Eventually, the sessions will occur once a week. In most cases, the amount performed each week will depend on two factors – how well a patient is progressing and the number of sessions permitted by the insurance company.

If you are self-pay for physical therapy, insurance coverage of the sessions is not something you will be concerned with. You will be able to choose how often you attend.

Should Physical Therapists be Tipped?

Many physical therapists accept tips and many do not. In most instances, physical therapists that work in the medical aspect of the profession do not receive tips.

Those that work in massage clinics, spas, and salons are more likely to receive tips. Tipping should not be an area of concern to you, as the patient. If you feel the need to tip, you may do so; however, it is often not accepted or even expected.

Is Physical Therapy Successful?

Yes, physical therapy has a very high success rate. This success is measured in terms of how fast a patient recovers, how strong they are, their general level of mobility, and if their pain levels subside. If you choose to participate in physical therapy, you will experience many benefits. We here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy pride ourselves in bringing out the best in every single patient that we work with. We offer a vast array of services and treatments that are designed to improve your strength, movements, and general well-being. To learn more, contact us today by calling the following number: 303-832-5577

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What types of conditions do physical therapists treat? ›

Because there are many different types of treatments that fall under the physical therapy discipline, physical therapy can be used to improve many different conditions, including:
  • Arthritis. ...
  • Spinal conditions. ...
  • Muscle imbalances and tension. ...
  • Sports injuries. ...
  • Headaches. ...
  • Dizziness. ...
  • Concussions. ...
  • Neck pain.

What are the 5 types of physical therapy? ›

The field of physical therapy has sub-specialties in five distinct practice areas:
  • Orthopedic. Orthopedic physical therapy focuses on restoring function to the musculoskeletal system, including joints, tendons, ligaments and bones. ...
  • Geriatric. ...
  • Neurological. ...
  • Cardiopulmonary. ...
  • Pediatric.

What are the most common injuries that require physical therapy? ›

1. Sports Injuries
  • A.C.L. (anterior crucial ligament) knee injuries.
  • Ankle sprains.
  • Concussions.
  • Rotator cuff injuries.
  • Runner's knee.
  • Shin splints.
  • Tennis elbow or Little League elbow.
9 Nov 2021

What are the 6 different types of physical therapy? ›

6 Common Types of Physical Therapy You Should Know
  • Neurological Physical Therapy. ...
  • Occupational Physical Therapy. ...
  • Geriatric Physical Therapy. ...
  • Pediatric Physical Therapy. ...
  • Rehabilitative Physical Therapy. ...
  • Hand Physical Therapy. ...
  • These Types of Physical Therapy Works Wonders.
17 Aug 2020

Which type of disability are most likely to benefit from physical therapy? ›

neurological conditions, such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, vestibular dysfunction, and traumatic brain injuries. pediatric conditions, including cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. sports-related injuries, such as concussion and tennis elbow.

What can a physical therapist not do? ›

Physical therapy never includes sex. It also never includes verbal sexual advances or any other kind of sexual contact or behavior. Sexual contact of any kind in the course of a physical therapy treatment is illegal and unethical.

What is the most common physical therapy? ›

The most popular physical therapy specialty is orthopedic physical therapy, which involves treating conditions of the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints.

What is difference between physiotherapy and physical therapy? ›

The answer, you may be shocked to learn, is that physical therapy and physiotherapy are exactly the same! There is, in fact, no difference between the two terms and each term can be used interchangeably. They are synonyms.

What are 3 things a physical therapist does? ›

Physical therapists examine each person and then develops a treatment plan to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function, and prevent disability.

What are 5 things physical therapist do? ›

Physical therapists work with patients to improve their movement and manage their pain. PTs use a variety of techniques to help their patients, including hands-on therapy, strengthening and stretching exercises, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, ice/heat, and much more.

What are 3 types of major injuries? ›

Acute, Overuse, and Chronic.

What are the 4 types of injuries? ›

Dislocations. Electrical injuries. Fractures (broken bones) Sprains and strains.

How many times a week should you do physical therapy? ›

How long does physical therapy treatment take? A typical order for physical therapy will ask for 2-3 visits per week for 4-6 weeks. Sometimes the order will specify something different. What generally happens is for the first 2-3 weeks, we recommend 3x per week.

What is the highest level of physical therapy? ›

A Doctor of Physical Therapy or Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT) degree is a qualifying degree in physical therapy. In the United States, it is considered a graduate-level first professional degree or doctorate degree for professional practice.

Which form of treatment is used to help restore mobility? ›

Physical therapy for orthopaedic musculoskeletal rehabilitation can improve movement, decrease discomfort, and possibly repair bone damage.

What are the 21 types of physical disabilities? ›

  • Locomotor Disability. Leprosy Cured Person. Cerebral Palsy. Dwarfism. Muscular Dystrophy. Acid Attack Victims.
  • Visual Impairment. Blindness. Low Vission.
  • Hearing Impairment. Deaf. Hard of Hearing.
  • Speech and Language Disability.

What are the 3 most common physical disabilities? ›

Here are three of the most common physical disabilities we see.
  1. Arthritis and Other Musculoskeletal Disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic, arthritis is inflammation and tenderness in one or more joints. ...
  2. Cerebral Palsy. ...
  3. Spinal Cord Injuries.

What is the most approved disability? ›

What Is the Most Approved Disability? Arthritis and other musculoskeletal system disabilities make up the most commonly approved conditions for social security disability benefits. This is because arthritis is so common. In the United States, over 58 million people suffer from arthritis.

When should physical therapy not be used? ›

So, how do you know when to stop going to physical therapy? The decision to stop physical therapy should be one made in collaboration with your physical therapist and your physician, but 2 very different reasons it may be time to end PT include: You've reached your goals. You're not seeing progress.

What is the next step if physical therapy doesn't work? ›

Worse, when traditional physical therapy does fail, most people go back to their doctors hoping for a different solution. Many times, the next step for these folks involves unwanted procedures or surgery.

Can physical therapy make conditions worse? ›

Physical therapy is aimed at improving symptoms and pain, but sometimes patients experience worsening symptoms after engaging in physical therapy exercises.

How long does physical therapy typically last? ›

A good physical therapist will track progress and check whether you are making gains in range of motion, function, and strength. Generally, soft tissues will take between six and eight weeks to heal, meaning that a typical physiotherapy program will last about that long.

What are the 4 types of physiotherapy? ›

Some of the modes of treatment in physiotherapy are:

Manual therapy. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy. Magnetic therapy. Dry needling and acupuncture.

Where is physical therapy most needed? ›

The 5 States With the Highest Projected Demand for Physical Therapists (2018-2028)
RankStateAverage Number of Physical Therapist Job Openings per Year
2New York1,560
1 more row
7 Apr 2022

What is better than a physio? ›

As mentioned earlier, osteopaths often treat more holistically than physiotherapists. An osteopath may treat one part of the body to reduce pain in another. For example, they may treat your right shoulder pain by treating on your left hip.

What is physical therapy usually for? ›

Doctors often recommend physical therapy for people who have been injured or who have movement problems from an illness, disease, or disability. After an injury, physical therapists work to decrease pain, improve movement, and help people return to daily activities.

What's better physio or massage? ›

Massage therapy is commonly used for immediate relaxation of pain and muscle spasms, whereas physiotherapy is geared more towards rehabilitating muscle and joint function.

What are good questions to ask a physical therapist? ›

10 Important Questions to Ask Your Physical Therapist
  • Do you commonly treat my condition? ...
  • What specific type of physical therapy will be provided for my condition? ...
  • How is physical therapy going to help me? ...
  • How many times a week must I come to get results? ...
  • How long is each visit?
25 Apr 2021

What procedures do physical therapists do? ›

Physical therapists often combine several techniques to help you move without pain or with less pain. These include stretching and balance exercises, strength training, massage, cold and heat therapy, and electrical stimulation.

What part of the body does physical therapy work on? ›

Physical therapy can help you recover from an injury and avoid future injury. Your physical therapist can help you reduce pain in the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments), build muscle strength, and improve flexibility, function, and range of motion.

What is the most serious type of injury? ›

Traumatic Brain Injuries

One of the most catastrophic types of injuries that can occur is a traumatic brain injury. These often result in long-term damages and can leave the injured party with significant side effects they must endure over the course of their life.

What is the most commonly injured body part? ›

The most commonly broken bones are the clavicle, arm, wrist, ankle, toe, and feet and 50% of broken bones in adults happen to arms.

What are 5 basic injury types? ›

Five Types of Injuries and Five Causes
  • Soft Tissue Injuries. Soft tissue injuries are some of the most common types of injuries. ...
  • Broken Bones. Our bones support our bodies and help us move. ...
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries. ...
  • Spinal Cord Injuries. ...
  • Psychological Injuries.
29 Oct 2019

What are the 7 common injuries? ›

8 Most Common Sports Injuries
  • Strains. Strains are by far the most common of all sports-related injuries simply because we use so many muscles and tendons when we exercise or play. ...
  • Sprains. ...
  • Knee injuries. ...
  • Fractures. ...
  • Tennis elbow. ...
  • Plantar fasciitis/shin splints. ...
  • Back injuries/back pain. ...
  • Concussion.

What are the 9 types of injuries? ›

The most common types of sports injuries include:
  • Sprains. Overstretching or tearing the ligaments results in a sprain. ...
  • Strains. Overstretching or tearing muscles or tendons results in a sprain. ...
  • Knee injuries. ...
  • Swollen muscles. ...
  • Achilles tendon rupture. ...
  • Fractures. ...
  • Dislocations. ...
  • Rotator cuff injury.

When is physical therapy too much? ›

Signs your physical rehab program may be overdoing it include: Muscle failure while trying to tone and strengthen your body. Muscle soreness two days after a workout or rehab session. Excessive or “therapeutic” bruising from a deep tissue massage.

When is the best time of day to do physical therapy? ›

Morning: the early bird gets the workout done

Early sessions are great for a few reasons. Many people feel stiff when they get out of bed. Doing your session right when you wake up can help get your blood pumping, help you feel more nimble, and get you ready to face the day.

Should you rest after physical therapy? ›

Just remember that rest is an extremely important part of the healing process. Taking part in rehab exercises is key to gaining strength and mobility back in the injured area. With that being said, there must be rest days in between; without it there will be no progress.

How much physical therapy is enough? ›

On average, non-surgical patients graduate in about 12 visits, but often start to feel improvement after just a few sessions. However, your progress and the number of physical therapy sessions you need will depend on your individual condition and commitment to therapy.

Do Physical Therapists lift patients? ›

Physical therapy work can be physically demanding. PTs often lift patients and move stiff limbs. A lot of time can be spent standing, crouching and also bending.

Why do physical therapists call themselves doctors? ›

As of 2020, all physical therapists must hold a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree to practice professionally. So, yes, a physical therapist is a doctor with the training and credentials to practice their medical specialty safely and effectively.

What does a physiotherapist do for mobility problems? ›

Physiotherapists usually recommend movement and exercise to help improve your mobility and function. This may include: exercises designed to improve movement and strength in a specific part of the body – these usually need to be repeated regularly for a set length of time.

What medical condition affects mobility? ›

These include: illness, including conditions such as motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis. treatments for illness, including surgery. weakness and fatigue.

What are the 5 roles of the physical therapist? ›

The responsibilities of a physical therapist include:

Consulting with patients to learn about their physical condition and symptoms. Diagnosing movement dysfunction and developing a treatment plan. Teaching patients how to properly use therapeutic exercise techniques. Providing stimulation or massage to promote healing.

What are the four 4 main goals of a physical therapist? ›

Relieve pain. Improve movement or ability. Prevent or recover from a sports injury. Prevent disability or surgery.

What usually happens at physical therapy? ›

Your PT will walk you through specific stretches and exercises that are meant to help you move and feel better. You might use state-of-the-art equipment, or simple workout equipment like bikes and treadmills. Your PT will oversee all the exercises that you do during your session.

What is the difference between rehab and physical therapy? ›

Physical therapy deals with restoring function, strengthening, and improving fitness. Rehabilitation is concerned with treating disabilities, helping patients recover from medical conditions, and allowing them to live without assistance.

What does a physical therapist focus on? ›

Physical therapists examine each person and then develops a treatment plan to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists can have a profound effect on people's lives.

What procedures do physical therapists perform? ›

Popular treatments and techniques commonly practiced today include:
  • Acupuncture.
  • Aquatic therapy (Hydrotherapy)
  • Aerobic activities.
  • Cardiopulmonary.
  • Dry needling.
  • Edema control (Dropsy)
  • Electrical stimulation (Electrotherapy)
  • Heat and cold therapy.
14 Oct 2019

What are long term goals in physical therapy? ›

Long-term goals are set to help you understand what you can expect to achieve during rehabilitation, and where you can expect to be in your healing journey in several months or years. Examples of long-term goals include: Get back to gardening within six months. Run 1 mile within a year.

What is the ultimate goal for rehab patients? ›

The goal is both to restore physical health, quality of life and overall wellness to the patient, while minimizing the risk of injury or illness in the future.

What are the six areas in the movement system that physical therapy works with? ›

As currently defined, the "movement system" represents the collection of systems (cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, integumentary, nervous, and musculoskeletal) that interact to move the body or its component parts.


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