You may be required to undergo physical therapy if you’ve had a surgery, a musculoskeletal injury or difficulty in movement. Your symptoms may be mild or severe – often limiting your functional mobility. Physical therapy helps to improve the mobility of the affected joints or limbs, and also to reduce pain.
Physical therapy is a set of treatment options which may be used singly or in combination to achieve the best results, based on individual cases. Most of these treatments are designed to decrease pain and inflammation, or improve strength, endurance, functionality and range of motion. At EPIC Health, our physical therapist will explain which specific therapy will be used for you and why.
This is basically a controlled physical stress applied on the body with the aim of enhancing strength, flexibility or range of motion, and it can be either active or passive.
This is the exercise you do yourself, like walking on a treadmill, leg raises, shoulder rotation, and so on. We will guide you on how to do it, and how many times you need to repeat. You may need to visitour practice initially, and continue at home. Our therapist will teach you a routine to be followed for your home exercise program.
These are exercises where our physical therapist applies the stress and you simply relax. Examples are when you lie down and the therapist lifts your leg to stretch your hamstring muscle; ankle bends rotations, or side by side movements to improve the flexibility and range of motion of the ankle.
This is basically a deep heat treatment used to treat tendonitis, strains, sprains and other musculoskeletal injuries. An ultrasound machine is used by our physical therapist, where a wand is rotated on your skin near the injury site with gentle pressure. To ensure the absorption of the ultrasound waves into the skin and muscles, we apply a little gel on the skin.
Electrical Stimulation and TENS
Our physical therapists occasionally use Electrical stimulation and TENS (transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation) to help reduce pain in the tissue surrounding the injury site. Another form of electrical stimulation that may be used to help muscles contract is NMES – neuromuscular electrical stimulation. This is performed to help your muscles to regain their function.
This therapy is often used to treat lower back (lumbar) or neck (cervical) pain; apart from reducing pain, it helps improve mobility of the spine. Traction helps to separate the disc spaces and joints in the neck or lower back; this helps reduce the pressure on the nerves of the spine.
1. Lumbar Traction
The patient is strapped into a machine, with a vest that is worn to give support to the ribs. Another harness like device goes around the pelvis, and both of these are secured with straps. Another machine is used to apply mechanical force and slowly stretch the joints.
2. Cervical Traction
This traction can be applied with the patient lying down or sitting. The patient has to lie on their back, with their forehead strapped into a device; a pneumatic pump provides the traction force to the neck. In the sitting position a harness is fixed onto the patient’s head; a pulley with a small weight is used to provide traction force
The physical therapist may move your body joints in specific directions passively, and this is called joint mobilization. It helps to enhance mobility and functionality, and reduces pain. The joints of our body also have a gliding motion, and this is improved during this therapy. The pressure and the direction of force applied onto the joint determine the degree to which the joint is moved. This is a passive therapy but you can do it yourself at home too –our physical therapist at EPIC Health will show you how. This will speed up the process of healing and you can regain normal function faster.
The injured tissues of the body are kneaded with the hands, with moderate pressure. This helps to relax the muscles, alleviate pain, and improve the blood circulation in the area. Massage techniques include trigger point massage, compression, cross-fiber massage, and so on.
Heat packs (dry) or moist heat can be applied to injured areas to boost blood circulation, alleviate pain and reduce muscle tension. Often, a large tank of hot water called a hydrocollator is used to hold the hot packs, which are filled with a mixture of clay, sand and silica. The mixture absorbs the hot water; it is then wrapped in towels or terry cloth covers before application. The normal duration of this therapy is about 15 to 20 minutes. We ensure adequate toweling, so that the patient does not suffer skin burns from excessive heat.
Ice or cold packs can also be applied for pain relief and inflammation control; this has to be done immediately after an injury, or in the very early stages to limit the inflammation and swelling of tissues to a small area. Cold packs are also used for 15-20 minutes, and we cover them sufficiently to protect the skin from getting damaged due to extreme cold.
This is a type of electrical stimulation used to deliver medication to injured or inflamed tissue. It is often used in combination with a steroid like dexamethasone to reduce pain and swelling.
Laser or Light Therapy
Light of specific wavelengths is used to help speed up the healing of injured tissue. This painless procedure takes only about 1-3 minutes. A light emitting wand-like device is held right over the injured area, and the light is activated. This can be used to treat inflammation or chronic pain, and also to heal wounds. It is believed that the energy in the light photons can help enhance cellular processes, quicken healing and reduce pain.
This fairly new treatment is used in conjunction with other therapies to give a boost to the rehabilitation process. The K-tape is made of flexible fabric that is capable of pulling and stretching with your body movements. It is applied on the skin and is left in place for a certain number of days. It can be used for:
- Muscle inhibition
- Muscle facilitation
- Bruising and swelling management
- Reducing pain
Have you had an injury recently, or are any of your joints feeling stiff, painful, and difficult to move? Call us now to book an appointment with our physical therapy specialist. At EPIC Primary Care, we have a dedicated team of physical therapists and assistants who can help you be pain free, and improve your mobility and flexibility.
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Also view our presentation on the Patient Centered Medical Home