Physical therapy is the treatment, prevention, and management of movement disorders arising from conditions and diseases. It has its origins in ancient history and was first reported 5,000 years ago in China as massage and manual therapy. Hippocrates explained massage and hydrotherapy in 460 BC. Ayurveda therapists, practitioners of the oldest medical modality known, used physical therapy to manipulate patients’ bodies. Modern physical therapy was started in 1896 to help patients maintain adequate muscle function and mobility. The need to rehabilitate amputees during World War I and World War II, as well as to work with patients suffering from debilitating diseases such as polio, helped make physical therapy a necessary part of twentieth-century medicine. Practitioners believe functional movement is the basis for being healthy. Physical Therapy encompasses techniques that include manipulation, traction, massage, therapeutic exercise, functional training, patient education, and counseling about movement and healthy body mechanics. Physical therapists also use ice, heat, electrical currents, and a variety of newer techniques to relieve adhesions (Graston, active release) and to decrease sympathetic tone (PRRT). Physical Therapy involves treatment, healing, and prevention of injuries or disabilities. Physical Therapy promotes healing, restores function and movement, and relieves pain. Because each individual is different, physical therapists design programs specifically for each person. For example, if you have a sore back because of weak muscles, the therapist will teach you how to strengthen those muscles. Often pain can be treated with physical therapy as a part of a comprehensive chronic pain treatment program through passive and active therapies. Forms of passive therapy include traction, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, hot packs, and ice packs. Active therapy includes aerobic conditioning, strengthening exercises, muscular release, and stretching. Manual therapy is an especially effective method of treating pain. Manual therapy involves restoring movement to stiff joints and reducing muscle tension in order to return a patient to full mobility. Therapists treat many different diseases and conditions, including:
- Neck and back pain.
- Spinal and joint conditions and pain from arthritis.
- Cerebral palsy and spina bifida.
- Heart and lung conditions.
- Neurological conditions.
- Muscle control and biomechanical conditions.
This blog post is an excerpt from A Day Without Pain (Revised) by Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP). photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc