Physical therapy is one of the most safe and effective alternatives to
using medication to manage pain. Each of our physical therapists offer
a variety of treatments both in our facilities and through personalized
take-home treatment plans. Here are just a few of the ways we can help
you better manage your pain and increase your day-to-day quality of life:
MANUAL THERAPY — Best for: Any injury
This hands-on approach is what separates physical therapists from many
other health practitioners. Manual therapeutic techniques such as soft
tissue and joint mobilization, massage, tactile cues and manual strengthening
to reeducate the body into proper movement patterns are effective ways
to eliminate restrictions and help patients move better.
ICE — Best for: Recent injuries resulting in pain, inflammation and swelling
Ice works by constricting blood vessels, thus minimizing bleeding, swelling
and inflammation. Professional and collegiate athletes are aware of the
Game Ready, a device that combines circulating ice water with intermittent
HEAT — Best for: Lingering injuries involving muscular spasms and
or joint stiffness
Heat results in vasodilation, which can decrease spasm and increase mobility
in soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Softer, relaxed,
and more pliable tissues respond better to stretching. Heating methods
include whirlpool, hydrocollator packs, Fluidotherapy (a specific unit
for hands), or paraffin (hot wax).
ULTRASOUND — Best for: Connective tissue injuries
Ultrasound uses sound waves (at a million cycles per second, you cannot
hear it!) to generate heat at varying tissue depths. This modulates the
body’s natural healing response and also prepares tissues for exercise.
IONTOPHORESIS — Best for: Painful, superficial areas
Iontophoresis delivers medication, such as anti-inflammatory steroids,
through the skin to an inflamed tissue. The medication is applied to a
patch and pushed through the skin by current from a small battery.
TRACTION — Best for: Nerve entrapment
Injury, or arthritic changes, can crowd or pinch nerve and other tissue
in our spine. Traction is a form of decompression therapy that reduces
spinal pressure. It can be performed manually or mechanically. Since it
is non-invasive, it is often an effective option.
ELECTRICAL STIMULATION — Best for: Relieving pain, relaxing spasm,
restoring muscular strength
Electrical stimulation is a common treatment option used for multiple purposes.
Depending on current parameters such as frequency, duration and waveform,
this modality can relax or contract a muscle or alter the pain response
from an injured or irritated tissue. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation
(NMES), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and interferential
current (IFC/H-wave) are common types of electrical stimulation.
AQUATIC THERAPY — Best for: Arthritic conditions, unstable exercisers
and chronic pain.
When land-based exercise is too much, aquatic therapy (or “water
exercise”) may be a better choice. This form of exercise, in a warm,
soothing environment, combines beneficial movements with the support and
safety of the water. The buoyancy of the water reduces the forces on joints
and muscles by more than 50 percent, while easing the fear of falling.
With the guidance of an aquatic physical therapist, movements can once
again be both helpful and fun!
POSTURAL AND POSITIONING EDUCATION — Best for: Any injury or painful condition
Postural awareness and proper positioning is critical in controlling the
forces that can exacerbate a patient’s symptoms. The goal is to
minimize stress across irritated tissues during our routine daily activities.
EXERCISE — Best for: Virtually any injury or illness
Although it may not be obvious, exercise, even simple movements, is now
recognized as the “go-to” strategy to treat pain and prevent
its reoccurrence. But these aren’t just any exercises — they’re
targeted movements of stretching or strengthening, or both. Many injuries
result from, or are aggravated further, by a sedentary or less active
lifestyle. Hence the expression … movement is the best medicine!