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What does a Physical Therapist do?

This pain will never go away and I have to accept it. Time will make it better. It's my fault I'm not getting better because I don't eat right, exercise, or balance my life. I have a bulging disc, arthritis, etc and was told to stop doing certain movements. I fear I will hurt myself unless I avoid movements that are painful. I don't know what can be done for me other than medication or surgery and I don't want either of those. Have you had these thoughts before?

The goal of therapy is to guide you to meeting your individual goals whether you have pain with only one movement and you want to get back to your lifting routine or you have pain with a lot of movements and want to be able to get up and down from the ground to return to gardening. Let me take you through how we do this.


You will be seen for an evaluation on your first day. The physical therapist (PT) will ask you about your injury; how it happened, when it happened, where it hurts and what it is keeping you from doing. We will also ask about your medical history. Then the PT will ask you to do certain movements, move you into certain positions and assess your response. From this information the PT will tell you their findings and create a personalized treatment plan for you. Findings include a discussion of the anatomy, what structure may be irritated and what we will do to lessen the irritation and stress. Treatment is a collaborative effort between you and your PT. Therapy typically takes more than one visit because it took more than one day for your body to develop the problems that led to your injury and/or because the body does take time to heal even once we give it the proper treatment. Our job is to help you heal faster with the right treatment for YOUR body. It's not a simple on/off switch. On the first visit we will do some treatment and give you exercises to start on at home. Please do these exercises because it is part of assessing AND treating your injury! We want to see if what we gave you was helpful. We are learning your body's tolerance to certain movements.


We will assess how you are doing at each visit and progress the home exercises and treatment in the clinic as able. For treatment we do various things. We use exercise, balance, and functional activities to help work on mobility, posture and strength. We may use taping, dry needling (placing a thin needle into tight muscles to relax them), cupping (increases blood flow, decreases pain using suction), soft tissue mobilization (a hands on technique focused on getting muscles to relax), joint mobilization (a hands on technique to move the joints in certain directions to improve range of motion or decrease pain). There are other treatments such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, traction (relieves the pressure in a joint by using a pulling motion by the PT or a machine), and more.

Initially we may use more passive treatments. This is where we do things TO you such as the soft tissue mobilization or dry needling. These can help calm down your symptoms so you can move your body with less pain or discomfort. As you are able to move easier and with less pain we will discontinue the passive treatments and have you spend more of the session on exercise. We want to empower you and give you the knowledge of how to rehab yourself and to not rely on us to "fix" you. This leads to better and longer lasting outcomes when patients are able to manage symptoms independently. Please know that your diagnosis (bulging disc, arthritis) does not define your capabilities but the way your body FEELS does.

When moving through a physical therapy program, those negative thoughts should change! Patient's have told me "I finally have hope that I can get back to hiking (or other favorite activity) without pain." "I haven't even thought about my shoulder (or other painful body part) in the past few days!" Most of the time, you aren't getting better because you just don't know what to do. This is when a physical therapist can help!


If you you are wondering if physical therapy would work for you, text me at (512)763-0556. I am happy to find a time we can talk about what is going on and your next best steps.


DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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