After an injury, you may be instructed to undergo physical therapy to help you regain the ability to perform certain activities, to improve overall strength, and to prevent further damage. While the length of your physical therapy will depend on a number of factors, an Atlanta orthopedic doctor will be able to assess your specific situation and develop a treatment plan that meets your needs. The time you spend in physical therapy will ultimately be determined by when you have achieved your goal, or when another program becomes a better fit.
What Can Physical Therapy Help?
A regiment of physical therapy can be successfully applied to a wide range of injuries and conditions. Back and neck pain, joint or muscle stiffness, and soft tissue injuries are all common reasons that you may begin physical therapy. It can also be an effective part of management and recovery plans for conditions that affect the brain or nervous system. A common use of physical therapy may be for a stroke patient to regain their balance, coordination, and movement. In scenarios like these, physical therapy may allow the patient to regain their independence by building strength and mobility.
The type of injury or condition that is being addressed by physical therapy will influence the length of your program. While the severity of the issue will help your doctor to recommend a timeframe, your progress will impact if that timeframe is realistic as you work through the program.
No matter the reason you are seeking physical therapy, your therapist will continuously evaluate any improvement in your pain, range of motion, and strength building to determine when your goal has been properly achieved.
How Do I Know When I’m Done with Physical Therapy?
Your orthopedic doctor and physical therapist will provide guidance throughout your program as to your progress. However, there are some signs you can keep track of as well. If you notice a reduction of pain, or even elimination of pain, as well as improved function, this may be a sign that you are nearing the end of your program. Your therapist may want you to complete a few sessions after this point to ensure your problems will not reoccur in the near future.
There are basic guidelines for each type of injury, but these will vary greatly depending on your situation.
For a minor injury, often 2-3 sessions and a follow-up home exercise plan are sufficient for initial recovery. You may work with your physical therapist to schedule appointments on an as-needed basis in the future.
For soft tissue injuries, about 6-8 weeks of physical therapy is the norm. This is how long most soft tissue injuries take to heal, so a therapist will want to work with you during this time period to ensure timely and safe healing.
Chronic or serious conditions will likely require at least 2-3 months of physical therapy, though this may be much longer for chronic conditions and is likely to be accompanied by a home exercise program to encourage more progress.
Your Physical Therapy Program
In some cases, your physical therapy treatment will be discontinued or reduced when you and your doctor determine another course of action is better suited to your condition. You may also be released at a time when home exercise programs will suffice moving forward. However, most often, you will work with your doctors and physical therapists to determine that your goal has been reached and you are ready to end treatment.
While physical therapy is usually begun when an injury is sustained or a condition becomes apparent, people of all ages and levels of health can benefit from the practice. Continuing therapy beyond what is needed for healing is not uncommon as it can make people feel more confident in their mobility, strength, and overall sense of well-being. If you feel that you have met these goals, you should feel comfortable working with your team to end your course of treatment.
At AICA Orthopedics, our doctors work together with physical therapists and other specialists to determine the most appropriate plan for you and your injuries. Our holistic approach is designed to facilitate safe, effective, and timely healing by using the most appropriate therapies available to you. We also have a range of diagnostic tools to help determine what exactly your injuries may be, allowing us to design a program specifically built for your body and your goals. Contact AICA Orthopedics today to begin your path to full recovery.