What is physical therapy?

Who do we help?

Physical Therapy is a profession whose primary focus is helping people overcome physical impairments and so improves their ability to function in their world. This definition covers a wide range of problems that people may experience. As a result, we are commonly involved in helping people with orthopedic problems related to shoulder, lower back, foot/ankle, knee, neck or hip. And these orthopedic issues can be occurring in an athlete, a production worker, or even a geriatric patient all just as easily. As a profession, we are also involved in helping young children and even babies develop properly so they can have the opportunity to grow and live a normal life. Also, physical therapy works with neurological patients who have had a stroke, a spinal cord injury, as well as diseases like Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s. The common element in all these examples is assisting people recover the ability to move
functionally without pain, and reach their potential regarding strength, endurance, and coordination. All in all, a physical therapist is a valuable professional for a society that needs to stay healthy and active in order to be productive and fulfilled.

How do we help people?

The tools of a physical therapist are varied but their main tool is their ability to observe and assess the individual in order to understand the full scope of their deficits. From this, a plan can be devised to assist someone back to their previous level of ability and comfort. Physical therapists use hands on techniques related to joint and soft tissue mobilization, stretching, and exercises to address many deficits related to motion, weakness, pain, balance, or endurance. The key in this process is helping change a patient’s movement habits that promote stress and pain in their musculoskeletal system.

In addition, physical therapists focus on helping a patient have a better understanding of their painful condition and how to use that information to avoid future problems. Prevention is a growing subspecialty in physical therapy where it is valued in industry, sports, and even office environments to help people avoid injuries. All activities, even walking, create imbalances over time in joints and muscles that if addressed would allow for more enjoyment and proficiency in that activity.

Physical therapy uses other tools as well to assist in the healing process depending on each patient’s unique needs. Modalities that can increase blood flow and promote healing include heat and ultrasound. Iontophoresis, ice, and ultrasound can help reduce inflammation; while spasm and pain can be helped with a variety of devices that use electrical current. Modalities form just a small piece of what a physical therapist has to offer to a patient and depending on the phase of recovery they can be helpful. In the end, they are passive in nature and should be a temporary component to a well designed therapeutic program.

Passive modalities as mentioned above or even massage, medication, adjustments or rest will eventually plateau in their effectiveness to restore function. These interventions will not, by themselves, typically help a person overcome patterns of compensation that are responsible for ongoing problems. Eventually, a person needs to have an active program of specific exercises and a good understanding of their purpose in order to develop more independence in selfcare. Physical therapy is the primary health care profession that addresses the body from a comprehensive musculoskeletal viewpoint and strives to help people be more independent in their own orthopedic needs. Patients who understand their active role in the recovery process will, in the long run, derive more satisfaction and benefits from learning how to be more physically self sufficient.

We are a diverse profession

As well, within our profession it is important to note that there can be a great deal of difference in how a physical problem is approached and solved especially if it is complex or has a long history. Physical therapy is a diverse profession which brings treatment philosophies together under one name from all over the world. Yes, there are many common elements to treatment but ultimately much will depend on the individual physical therapist’s training and experience.

You have a choice

A prospective patient needs to know they have a choice in where they go for physical therapy. There are no laws or regulations that control where someone receives PT except if they are using worker’s compensation insurance. A potential PT provider should be chosen by looking for a history of getting good results. Perhaps the best approach is to talk to family and friends and become informed on where people have had success. There are many places to receive physical therapy from hospital based and large corporate facilities to independent private practices like Spa City Therapy.

Physical Therapy and your Health

In the final analysis, one of the greatest benefits of physical therapy is to help people create or renew a relationship with their own body. Physical therapy creates that connection through exercise and training which allows a patient to feel and understand their body better. The more the individual understands the needs and priorities of this amazing system, the more enjoyment and longevity the body will provide. Yes, the cost to the individual will be their time and effort but the results can be worth it. The gift of health is no small achievement and typically, in the long run, it is something that is earned versus given.

What should i expect on my first appointment?

Your initial visit will last an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Please arrive 15 minutes early to get your forms filled out so your evaluation can start on time. Initially, your therapist will do a thorough interview to obtain an understanding of your unique situation and what you want to accomplish. Secondarily, they will do an evaluation of your injured area and all related areas to determine the scope of your problem. The PT will then discuss their findings and what will be needed to overcome your limitations.

Does physical therapy hurt?

In general PT is not painful and usually the more skillful the therapist the less pain. This is not to say that pain and discomfort are not ever experienced. There are those situations with restrictedmotion and scar tissue adhesions where some discomfort is experienced. The rule of thumb is to communicate well with your therapist so they can adjust the treatment to fit your tolerance.motion and scar tissue adhesions where some discomfort is experienced. The rule of thumb is to communicate well with your therapist so they can adjust the treatment to fit your tolerance.

How long will my sessions last?

Typically, the first session is 60 to 75 minutes. Each session after that is 45-60 minutes. The amount of time is based on your specific needs and your therapist will discuss that with you.

How many sessions will I need?

Each patient’s needs are different and this will determine how many visits will be needed to reach your goals. Your needs are based on your diagnosis, age, prior level of function, and current status. Your therapist will be able to give you an estimate after their evaluation on the first visit.

What do we need from you?

Your therapist’s job becomes much easier and your progress will be much smoother if you arrive on time and you attend your appointments consistently. In addition, doing your home exercise program as requested will ensure better progress. Your therapist needs you to make therapy one of your primary priorities for at least four weeks depending on the severity of your problem so you make adequate progress. In this way, you can obtain the results you want.

How do I know if I need physical therapy?

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1. The most basic reason is you have had a recent strain or sprain from a fall, car accident, sports injury, etc. and you want to ensure it will heal properly and in the shortest time possible.

2. You have ongoing pain that is extending beyond the usual time frame for healing.

3. Your pain is better from an injury but you have ongoing functional or performance deficits.

4. A musculoskeletal condition that is getting worse.
5. You have pain that starts when you try to get more active or push yourself more.
6. You had surgery and you feel you are not improving in your mobility, strength, gait, or lifestyle as expected.
7. If surgery was recommended as a possibility but you have not tried PT first.

There is a concept we teach our patients when they are ready for discharge that allows them to test themselves to see if they are losing their motion, strength, or control. This gives them an early insight to push their exercises more and get back to baseline. Yet anyone can follow this proactive approach to understand their body better and know if they should seek a PT’s help. Each screen is set up as a series of tests, the more tests that are positive in that category, then the more PT should be considered.

1. Cervical Screen

1. Is your rotation markedly different left compared to right?
2. Is there pain at the end of your range of motion?
3. Do you have to compensate strongly by twisting your trunk to see to your right/left when driving?
4. If you look up, does it cause you sharp pain in your neck or increased tingling in your arms?
5. Do you have ongoing headaches?
6. Does your neck prevent you from sleeping well?

1. Shoulder Screen

1. Are you able to sleep comfortably on your shoulders?
2. Can you reach up your back with minimal pain and fairly equal motion?
3. If you move your arm quickly do you get a sharp jolt of pain in your shoulder?
4. Can you reach across your body without pain or catching?
5. If you lay on the floor and reach overhead with both arms, are they close in motion? Can you get close the floor without arching your back?

1. Lower back Screen

1. When standing and bending backwards, can you extend in your lower back a good ways without pain?
2. When standing with hands by your sides, slide your hand down the side of your leg, do you move left and right equally, is one markedly different in motion or pain in your lower back?
3. When lying on your back with knees up, can you twist your knees to the right and left with the same degree of motion and comfort in your lower back?
4. When standing, can you bend forward with your knees straight and return to vertical with comfort?
5. When sitting for prolonged periods (23 hours), do you develop numbness or leg symptoms?
6. Is it hard to go from sitting to stand and walk without some slow adjustment or pain in the back or hips?

1. Hips

1. Can you lie on your back and pull your bent knee across your body without pinching in the groin.
2. Can you walk with the same stride left and right?
3. Does it feel like when you walk that your upper body moves a lot to one side, like one leg feels short?
4. When walking, does your hip catch and cause you sharp pain.

1. Knees

1. Can you stand and push your knee back fully straight without pain?
2. Do your knees bend about the same amount when lying on your back and flexing them as you pull your heel towards your buttock? Is the quality of the end range the same or does one feel hard and painful?
3. Does your knee ever give out unpredictably?
4. Do you get pain with going up or down stairs in your knee or thigh muscle?

1. Ankles

1. When you walk especially up hills, do you get pain in the front of the ankle?
2. Can you stand on one foot and be in control of your balance? If not you could have deficits in the foot and up into the hip/pelvis.
3. Does your ankle ever give out or “turn” unpredictably?
4. Do you feel unconfident walking on uneven terrain like lawns or trails with your balance or ankle control?

These are simple questions and tests but they can give you some insights on whether you are subtly losing motion or control. If the results of these tests continue to get worse or you feel the results are quite limited now, then consider seeing a PT even if your pain is not a big issue. By
addressing musculoskeletal problems early in the imbalance phase the problem is much easier to solve and you also avoid the additional microtrauma to joints and tissues by being proactive in your musculoskeletal health. As you get older and aging sets in, you will be glad you did not wait for pain to be the only motivator to get help

How do I schedule an appointment

Scheduling an appointment is easy, just call our office @ 501.525.2273 and our friendly staff will get your referral and insurance information, and set you up with an appointment for your initial evaluation. We advise to schedule out 3-4 weeks so you get the times you need. Appointments can always be removed easier than trying to add them on short notice. We offer appointments as early as 7:00 am or as late as 5:35 pm.

What should I bring to my first appointment?

To bring on your first visit:

● Please bring your prescription from your doctor, your insurance card, and photo
● Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to fill out patient forms.
● In case of an auto accident or worker’s compensation also bring any insurance
adjuster or case manager contact names, phone number, and claim number.

What type of payment do you accept?

We accept cash, check, debit or credit cards. It is our policy that payment is made at the time of service for your coinsurance, copayment, or deductible if you have one. It is important to remember that your cost share is an agreement between you and your insurance company and that we are obligated to collect your portion at the time of service.

What if I do not have insurance?

We often do private pay programs with patients. The private pay fee is $95 per hour session and is due at the time of service