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Questions About Physical Therapy

What Do Physical Therapists Do?
According to the American Physical Therapy Association, physical therapists are experts in movement and function, they do not confine their talents to treating people who are ill. A large part of a physical therapist's program is directed at preventing injury, loss of movement, and even surgery.

Physical therapists work as consultants in industrial settings to improve the design of the workplace and reduce the risk of workers overusing certain muscles or developing low back pain. They also provide services to athletes at all levels to screen for potential problems and institute preventive exercise programs. With the boom in the golf and fitness industries, a number of physical therapists are engaged in consulting with recreational golfers and fitness clubs to develop workouts that are safe and effective, especially for people who already know that they have a problem with their joints or their backs.

The cornerstones of physical therapy treatment are therapeutic exercise and functional training. In addition to "hands-on" care, physical therapists also educate patients to take care of themselves and to perform certain exercises on their own. Depending on the particular needs of a patient, physical therapists may also "mobilize" a joint (that is, perform certain types of movements at the end of your range of motion) or massage a muscle to promote proper movement and function.

Physical therapists also use methods such as ultrasound, hot packs, and ice. Although other kinds of practitioners will offer some of these treatments, it's important for you to know that physical therapy can only be provided by qualified physical therapists or by physical therapist assistants.

Most forms of physical therapy treatment are covered by your insurance, but the coverage will vary with each plan. Most states do not legally require patients to see their physicians before seeing a physical therapist. Most of the time, all you have to do is ask your doctor if physical therapy is right for you.

Why Are People Referred to Physical Therapy?
People may be referred to physical therapy because of a movement dysfunction associated with pain. Your difficulty with moving parts of your body is likely to result in limitations with your daily activities. At Aspen Hill Physical Therapy, our specialists treat these movement dysfunctions and their associated pains and restore your body's ability to move in a normal manner.

Why Is Physical Therapy a Good Choice?
More than half of all Americans are suffering from pain. However, many do not even know that physical therapists are well equipped to treat pain and its source.

Physical therapists are experts at treating movement and neuro-musculoskeletal disorders. Pain often accompanies a movement disorder, and physical therapists can help correct the disorder and relieve the pain.

Is Physical Therapy Painful?
For many patients in the Silver Spring, Maryland, area, one of the primary objectives is pain relief. This is frequently accomplished with hands-on techniques and modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and heat or cold therapy. Movement often provides pain relief as well. Your physical therapist will provide you with the appropriate exercises not only for pain relief but to recover range of motion, strength, and endurance.

In some cases, physical therapy techniques can be painful. For example, recovering range of motion in your knee or shoulder may be painful. Your physical therapist will utilize a variety of techniques to help maximize your treatment goals. It is important that you communicate the intensity, frequency, and duration of pain to your therapist. Without this information, it is difficult for the therapist to adjust your treatment plan.

Massage may be part of your treatment. Rehabilitation specialists are trained in a variety of techniques that may help with your recovery. Deep tissue techniques may be part of the rehabilitative process. Massage is used for three main reasons: to facilitate venous return from a swollen area, to relax a tight muscle, or to relieve pain.

Is My Therapist Licensed?
Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants are licensed by their respective states.

• How Do I Choose a Physical Therapy Clinic?
• These are some things you may consider when seeking a physical therapy clinic:
• The therapist should be licensed in the state.
• The first visit should include a thorough medical history and physical examination before any treatment is rendered.
• The patient goals should be discussed in detail during the first visit.
• Do they have a service that can address your problem?
• Do they take your insurance or are they willing to work with you if they are not a preferred provider?
• Can they provide satisfaction survey results?
• The therapist should provide the treatment.
• Can you briefly interview the therapist before the first visit?
• Ask your family and friends who they would recommend.
• They should be conveniently located. Since sitting and driving often aggravate orthopedic problems, there should be a very good reason for you to drive a long distance for rehabilitation.
• Care should include a variety of techniques which might include hands-on techniques, soft tissue work, and therapeutic exercises, as well as heat, cold, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound.

Can My Therapist Provide Me with a Diagnosis?
In most states, physical therapists cannot make a medical diagnosis. At this point in time, physicians are the health care providers that will provide you with a medical diagnosis.