Physical therapy, also known as physiotherapy, may include certain exercises, massages and treatments based on physical stimuli (e.g. heat, cold, electrical currents or ultrasound). The aim of physical therapy is to relieve pain, help you move better or strengthen weakened muscles. Another important goal is to show patients what they can do themselves to improve their own health. The treatment isn’t only done in a practice or hospital: you can and should continue doing it at home yourself.
Physical therapy includes
- exercises to actively do certain movements yourself,
- guided, passive movements that the therapist does for you, as well as applying pressure (massage), and
- treatments based on physical stimuli such as heat, cold, electrical currents or ultrasound.
These approaches are used to treat acute and chronic symptoms, and also to prevent future problems or for rehabilitation after long-term medical problems, surgery or injuries.
The most suitable type of physical therapy treatment will depend on the symptoms and specific medical problem, as well as whether the patient has had the pain for a short time or long time, for instance. His or her personal preferences and overall physical fitness will play a role too.