Physical Therapy MN works to heal injuries and chronic conditions that affect movement. They can help you reduce pain and improve balance, among other things.
The best therapists take the time to understand their patients and listen to their concerns. They are also resourceful and willing to try new treatments.
Exercises make up a big part of physical therapy sessions. They improve your mobility, coordination and muscle strength. Your therapist will show you how to do these exercises during your appointments and then encourage you to do them at home, too. These will help you recover faster and get back to doing the things you enjoy most.
Muscle-strengthening physical therapy exercises can be simple movements like toe raises or arm rotations or more complex movements using equipment like resistance bands or light weights. The goal is to increase your muscle strength to decrease pain, reduce stiffness, and enhance your ability to perform daily activities.
Balance and coordination exercises focus on the interaction between your body’s muscles and nervous system. They can be as simple as standing on one foot for short bursts of time or more complex movement such as beginner’s yoga.
Endurance exercises are done for longer durations and engage larger overall muscle movements. They are usually a later stage in the therapeutic exercise program when the patient is stronger and has a higher tolerance for activity.
Stretching exercises are low-intensity movements that warm up and loosen the muscles. They are important for everyone, even those who don’t have injuries or aches to stretch out their muscles and joints. Keeping up with these simple, self-care movements can help reduce soreness and prevent future pain or discomfort.
Manual therapy is a hands on technique used to assess, diagnose and treat musculoskeletal injuries/conditions. It includes the passive movement of a joint within or beyond its active range of motion (mobilization), manipulation and soft tissue mobilization/massage. Techniques can be classified as being joint-biased, muscle and connective tissue-biased, or a combination of both. The goal of manual therapy is to decrease pain, improve joint mobility and soft tissue health, increase muscle length and improve nerve mobility.
There are many different techniques to accomplish these goals and they may vary from person to person depending on their condition, needs, lifestyle, and therapist preference. A physical therapist must have a strong knowledge base and skills in many manual techniques to effectively treat all patients.
Some therapists prefer to use a more holistic approach and look at the entire body when treating patients. This allows them to restore the balance of muscles that function together and to see how other structures or systems may be contributing to the patient’s symptoms. For example, some therapists view the piriformis muscle tightness as an imbalance of a chain of events and would rather restore proper sacroiliac or lumbar joint function than just stretch the piriformis.
The best therapists are highly trained in the evaluation of complex injuries/conditions and understand that there is often a mental component to injury recovery. They meet the patient where they are at and guide them through their anxieties as a part of the healing process.
Heat is used in physical therapy to relax stiff muscles, decrease spasms, and increase the flexibility of the affected area. It also increases circulation to the injured area, which helps with healing by bringing in oxygen and nutrients to the damaged tissue.
A therapist may use a commercial heat pack or apply moist heat, such as from a heating pad or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. Moist heat penetrates deeper into muscle tissue and is more effective than dry heat.
Typically, your therapist will wrap a hot pack or heating pad in several layers of towels to prevent burns. The therapist will apply the pack to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes or as directed by your doctor. You should not use heat for long periods of time because this can cause erythema ab igne, which is characterized by mottled and discolored skin.
Heat modalities are beneficial when used in conjunction with proper stretching, rest, good posture and supplemental exercise during physical therapy. They are a first-line treatment for many soft tissue (musculoskeletal) injuries and conditions.
Cold therapy is a time-tested method for obtaining relief from muscle injuries and pain. As part of the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) treatment strategy, it helps reduce swelling and alleviate pain. It also impedes nerve pain signals and decreases muscle spasms.
Physical therapists commonly use ice packs to treat acute injuries. They also employ a variety of cold therapy products such as sprays, gel packs, and systems. These products are designed to help patients recover from injury and pain without the use of prescription medication.
The application of cold temperatures causes vasoconstriction, narrowing of the blood vessels. This increases the amount of fluid in the area being treated, which lowers inflammation and pain. The icing technique is also an effective treatment for reducing bruising around joints and muscles.
When used in conjunction with heat therapy, alternating hot and cold therapies accelerate the healing process of damaged tissue. Heat therapy increases the skin’s temperature, causing blood vessels to widen and improve circulation. This brings nutrients to the damaged area and carries away wastes, facilitating healing.
However, hot therapy should not be used on stiff joints or muscles and people with poor blood circulation. It also should not be used on people with dermatitis, diabetes, vascular disease, or deep vein thrombosis (unless under professional supervision). This can cause burns and damage. The same is true of the cold, so it is important to take a gradual approach to using these treatments.
Therapeutic ultrasound is a form of mechanical vibration that facilitates healing at a cellular level. It can be used to warm the tissue, increase circulation and relax muscle and connective tissue to reduce pain and promote healing.
Ultrasound therapy is a common tool in physical and occupational therapy for musculoskeletal injuries. When used properly, this treatment can help to alleviate pain and improve mobility. It can also reduce the risk of scarring or adhesions that can lead to chronic pain.
During an ultrasound treatment, our physical therapists will place a small probe on your skin and apply a transmission gel. These ultrasound waves can be felt on the surface of your body, but they cannot be heard. These sound waves produce microscopic bubbles near your injury that expand and contract rapidly. This process is known as cavitation, and it can help to improve your blood flow and accelerate the healing of damaged tissues.
Ultrasound can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. It can be used to alleviate pain and swelling from some sports injuries, and it may help to speed up the recovery time for certain chronic conditions. It can also be used to deliver drugs directly into the tissue, a process known as sonophoresis. This technique can be used to deliver medication such as lidocaine or cortisone. This can be useful when the site of injury is numb or inaccessible.
Electric stimulation is a safe, effective treatment technique that may help to relieve pain. In the clinical setting, the therapist places self-adhesive electrodes on the skin in and around the targeted treatment area. These electrodes are connected to a device through wire leads and allow electricity to pass through and communicate with sensory and motor nerves.
The electrical impulses from the electrodes cause a depolarisation of an intact motor neuron, resulting in muscle contraction. In some cases the therapist will stimulate multiple muscles at once (known as electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS) to perform more comprehensive training. The electrical impulses can also elicit an innate and completely natural analgesic effect by stimulating sensory nerve fibers that interfere with pain signals being sent to the brain.
There are many different modes of electrical stimulation that physical therapists use. Your therapist will decide which type is best for you. They include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), interferential, pre-modulated, Russian, and symmetrical or asymmetrical bi-phasic.
While e-stim can feel uncomfortable on higher settings, it should never be painful. It should always feel similar to flexing or working out a group of muscles. A common complaint is that the skin under the electrode feels irritated, but this is rare and can be easily treated with soothing lotions. Rarely, if the electrical stimulation is applied too intensely to an injured tissue, it can cause a burn on that site.