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How Physical Therapy Prevents the Need for Surgery

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By Amanda Notley-Kim

Seeing a physical therapist is often the first step taken following an injury thanks to DirectAccess. Even if it isn’t, your doctor will most likely prescribe a certain amount of physical therapy before looking into non-conservative options.

Physical therapy is very successful in treating common injuries, and with the right amount of patient motivation, surgery can be avoided by following a regimented program.

Many people sustain injuries throughout their lifetime, and if not treated or addressed appropriately, symptoms may become so severe that you’d think the only option would be having surgery. You’d be surprised to learn that by going through a physical therapy program, quality of life and overall physical condition may improve without the need for surgical intervention.

Physical therapy can help prevent further degeneration or damage that naturally and consequently occurs as a result of normal wear and stress on the body. This gradual breakdown of body structures could lead to increasing pain and disability.

Physical therapy utilizes different manual therapy techniques such as joint mobilizations and soft tissue mobilization, which are used to improve circulation and range of motion that help eliminate inflammatory substances that build up as a result of many arthritic or degenerative conditions. Your physical therapist will also prescribe different forms of exercise to keep these joints mobile and lubricated, thus reducing stiffness and pain.

Strengthening exercises that aim to take pressure off of your joints is one of the many important factors in decreasing the stress that is put on already vulnerable soft tissue structures. Increased pressure or stress to otherwise healthy structures can happen as a result of many years of using improper lifting or bending techniques or using the same group of muscle groups over time, leading to overuse and repetitive stress injuries. These injuries can be prevented when given proper information about form or technique when performing certain activities.

Many injuries or conditions that develop from overuse or prolonged muscle weakness may lead to torn muscles, tendons or ligaments. Depending on the situation, surgery may be warranted, but if caught early enough, physical therapy can often help prevent surgery.

Overuse injuries typically arise from training mistakes or repetitive demands over time. Training errors can occur when you take on too much physical activity too quickly, as recently seen by many people trying to return to the gym after being away for a prolonged period of time due to COVID-19.

You may be unaware of the errors you are making or how your body would respond after not being active for a certain amount of time. That is why going to see a movement expert such as a physical therapist would be beneficial to you.

Your therapist can perform a postural assessment to see if you are sitting, standing or moving a certain way that promotes poor posture or form, which, over time, can also lead to further soft tissue damage. They will be able to test your strength and point out important muscle imbalances or weaknesses that need to be addressed in order to recognize the compensation that is being made that may lead to further stress or strain on your body.

Range of motion measurements and mobility tests are also a part of their evaluation. This information is used to form a custom treatment plan aimed at reducing pain, improving movement patterns, correcting posture and offloading structures that are already vulnerable due to increased pressure over time.

By correcting common movement and postural errors through the use of different manual therapy techniques and prescribing strengthening, stretching and stabilization exercises patients will be able to improve their quality of life. They will prevent further damage to their bodies, avoiding the need for surgery. Surgery is not always the answer.

Contact our clinic today and schedule a consultation with one of our physical therapists to see how they can help you understand your body better through their in-depth customized programs. It will ultimately help improve your quality of life and overall physical condition without the need for surgery.

Dr. Amanda Notley-Kim is a doctor of physical therapy at ProClinix Sports Physical Therapy & Chiropractic in Ardsley. For any questions regarding this article or about ProClinix, please call 914-207-7337 or e-mail at admin@proclinix.com.

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