Physical therapy is a
type of treatment you may need when health problems make it hard to move around
and do everyday tasks. It helps you move better and may relieve pain. It also
helps improve or restore your physical function and your fitness level.
The goal of physical therapy is to make daily tasks and activities
easier. For example, it may help with walking, going up stairs, or getting in
and out of bed.
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Physical therapy can help with recovery after some
surgeries. Your doctor may suggest physical therapy for injuries or long-term
health problems such as arthritis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Physical therapy may be used alone or with other
What does a physical therapist do?
physical therapist will examine you and talk to you about your symptoms and your daily activity. He or she will then work with you on a
treatment plan. The goals are to help your joints move better and to restore or increase
your flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and/or balance.
First, your therapist will try to reduce your pain and swelling. Your physical therapist also may use
manual therapy, education, and techniques such as
heat, cold, water, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation.
Physical therapy almost always includes exercise. It
can include stretching,
core exercises, weight lifting, and walking. Your
physical therapist may teach you an exercise program so you can do it at home.
Treatment may cause mild soreness or swelling. This is normal, but talk
to your physical therapist if it bothers you.
What should you look for in a physical therapist?
You'll want a therapist who has experience with your
health problem. Some physical therapists are board-certified in areas such as orthopedics, sports, and neurology and may offer more specialized care. Physical therapists can also specialize in certain types of care, such as:
Back and neck pain.
Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab).
Treatment of children or older adults.
Here are some questions to think about before you choose a
Can your doctor suggest one?
you need a referral from your doctor? Some states require this.
Will your insurance company pay for your physical therapy?
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this