What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

This article was first published on Aletha Health

More than 120 million Americans have an injury or painful condition in the bones, muscles, or joints. These conditions can be painful and debilitating, and they often call for physical therapy. Odds are that at some point in your life, you’ve likely been part of the group of Americans with some sort of long-term physical injury or condition. It’s also likely that you’ve been recommended physical therapy. But what do physical therapists do, exactly?

Physical therapy is a broad term that’s used to describe the treatment of painful injuries or conditions by implementing physical methods instead of surgery or extensive medication. It is a massive category, though, and each physical therapist has their own approach.

Some physical therapists opt for traditional methods or recommend exercise routines, while others (like myself!) prefer a holistic route that takes into account the whole person when considering treatment and solutions. 

For so many people, one of the most frustrating things about physical therapy is that it can sometimes feel unproductive, and many patients eventually give up on physical therapy. If you feel like your physical therapist doesn’t quite understand your problem, you’re not alone. Often, though, the solution isn’t to give up on physical therapy, but rather to find someone who can truly listen and understand and address your issue.

I practice holistic physical therapy, which is the practice of looking at the whole person; from your diet to stress levels and your job, I take everything into account to figure out how to help you feel better. In this article, you’ll be able to get a better idea of what I do as a physical therapist and how it might be able to get you on track to successfully manage your condition or injury.

How Do I Know if I Need To See a Physical Therapist?

Everyone’s physical situation is different, and the need to see a physical therapist (as well as the type of treatment) varies by person. However, there are plenty of reasons you should probably see a physical therapist. A long-term or serious injury, chronic pain, and physical disorders are all reasons to get some extra help feeling your best.

If you’re on the fence about seeing a physical therapist, it’s probably a good idea to go see one! Remember that it’s not a quick fix and it’s more of an evaluative process, but talking with a physical therapist should give you a better idea of your current situation and some things you can do to help improve upon your physical condition. The first step is the evaluation. This first visit will give you a clear idea of the core reasons why you are experiencing your issue and a clear plan forward on what to do about it.

A great physical therapist can make all the difference in the world and a holistic approach is a big bonus. Let’s talk a little more about how a holistic approach may be the missing link you have been searching for.

Holistic Physical Therapist

What Makes Holistic Physical Therapy Different?

Holistic physical therapy differs from standard physical therapy in a number of ways. One of the most important things to know about holistic therapy is that a holistic therapist won’t just be hyper-focused on your injury, but instead a good holistic therapist will consider your lifestyle, diet, and a wide range of other factors.

Things like stress and nutrition can affect our bodies and our injuries a lot more than we think, and holistic therapy is about addressing all of life’s surrounding forces that could be affecting your physical health! A good holistic physical therapist has a working knowledge of alternative and complementary approaches so that all the pieces of the puzzle are addressed. The holistic physical therapist may not personally address each of these other pieces of the puzzle, but they will confidently know how to find the perfect person to refer to that does so masterfully.

A big part of physical therapy is understanding that it is a process, not a quick fix. Only 35% of patients adhere to exercise regimens that their physical therapist provides, which is a telling number. In my holistic practice, I focus on a hands-on approach that’s more than just a simple exercise routine. You will be given exercises and movement practices but only a small handful of the absolutely essential ones, not handouts upon handouts of them. 

Another part of my process is working with other professionals in the health and wellness industry to help you feel as good as you can. I work with chiropractors, naturopaths, and other specialists who can best identify and come up with plans to treat your injury or condition in a holistic way.

The bottom line? A physical therapist’s goal is to help you feel better by improving upon whatever injuries or conditions might be bothering you. There are an infinite number of ways to go about that process, and proper treatment and methods will look different for everyone. Holistic physical therapy is an option that sees the big picture viewpoint, seeing the person as whole and offering solutions that are multifaceted. 

I advocate for holistic physical therapy because it allows me to evaluate your situation from this big picture viewpoint, seeing how each piece of the puzzle contributes to the whole. I work with other professionals that see you as a human, not as a condition. If you’re interested in learning more about the holistic approach and how you can understand your physical conditions better, check out the rest of my blog here.

If you are interested in discovering if holistic physical therapy is for you, you can schedule an in person or virtual evaluation here.


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