Are Physical Therapy Treatments Painful?

The majority of patients who seek out help from a physical therapist are struggling with pain. The goal of their treatment plans is to provide relief from that pain and enable them to enjoy life again. This is often accomplished using hands-on techniques, as well as a variety of other different methods.

In some cases, treatments can cause some discomfort for the patient. This is usually due to the fact that the treatments are improving the patient’s range of motion and strength in the affected area – an area that is likely not used to this type of movement taking place during treatments. It is important to let your therapist know when you have pain, how often, how long it lasts, and the intensity of the pain. This will allow your therapist to make any needed adjustments to the program he or she has developed for you.

What are the types of treatment a physical therapist incorporates in the practice?
There are many different methods available to help patients. The type of treatment will depend on what the patient’s issue is and what the goal of treatment is. Some of the more common treatments include:

  • Active Assistive Range of Motion (AAROM): These are gentle stretching and strengthening exercises for areas that are very weak.
  • Active Range of Motion (AROM): These exercises involve the patient moving or lifting the body part against gravity.
  • Cold Therapy (Cryotherapy): Using ice or cold in order to cause the blood vessels to constrict or decrease so the amount of fluid leaking from capillaries to the injured tissue will be reduced. Helps with pain and swelling.  
  • Gait Training: The therapist will observe and analyze how the patient walks and what happens to the various parts of the body when they do. Training involves correcting any abnormalities in the gait that are affecting the body.
  • Heat Therapy: Heat is applied to the affected area in order to relax muscles and decrease pain.
  • Isometrics: Exercises that involve muscle contraction with moving joints
  • Isotonics: Exercises that involve muscle contraction through range of motion with resistance.
  • Manual or Hands-On Techniques: These are the procedures that a physical therapist performs in order to increase joint or soft tissue mobility for the patient. There are a variety of these techniques that the therapist has received extensive training in.
  • Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES): The therapist applies electrical stimulation to help in improving strength, decrease swelling, relieve muscle spasms, and decrease pain in the affected area.
  • Passive Range of Motion (PROM): Exercises where the body part is moved via a range of motion without the active use of the muscles.
  • Posture Training: Education and training on proper posture. Many people do not have the best posture and do not realize that this can have a significant impact on their discs, joints, ligaments, muscles, and other soft tissues.
  • Progressive Resistive Exercises (PRE): Exercises that gradually increase the amount of resistance and repetitions. This is usually done with weights or rubber bands.
  • Ultrasound: A physical therapist will often incorporate ultrasound therapy in a patient’s treatment program. The sound waves that are emitted cause the vibration of water molecules located deep within the tissue. This results in healing of the tissues.

Physical therapy, like physical therapy from Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic, can help fix a wide array of issues. Contact a physical therapist today to set up an initial consultation.