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PT Guide: Physical therapy types and benefits

Physical therapy types

People with chronic pain, injuries or suffering from mobility issues choose surgeries as a way to treat the condition. Though in many cases it may be an effective treatment, ultimately doctors often recommend physical therapy to augment those surgeries as it is a very less intrusive approach with great benefits. If you’re wanting to learn more about the options, you’re in the right place. Here is your guide to physical therapy types and potential benefits.

What is physical therapy (PT)?

Physical therapy is a non-invasive approach and is considered as part of a rehabilitation program to help the patient restore and maintain optimal physical functioning and body movement. It is suitable for patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly, and provides relief from pain and improves the quality of life.

The treatment is provided by a physical therapist who creates and implements a treatment plan based on the condition of the patient. Physical therapy has proven effective in treating various issues, including treating infants with musculoskeletal defects and elderly patients who have suffered a stroke.

Advantages of physical therapy types

A physical therapy program that is custom to you as a patient can help you return to routines and improve your overall quality of life. It is a conservative treatment plan to manage issues and has many benefits. Below are some of the main advantages of physical therapy types:

Avoid surgery

One of the primary reasons why people who suffer from chronic pain seek surgery is to get rid of the pain. But most of the time physical therapy from an experienced therapist can help reduce the pain or even heal the injury itself, thereby reducing the need for surgery.

Moreover, it is a cost-effective treatment approach in comparison to more expensive surgery. Even in the worst case, when surgery is necessary, post-surgical physical therapy is recommendable by many care professionals.

Reduce joint or muscle pain

Physical therapy can treat strain in the joints and muscles, especially around the hips and legs. It can provide a way to manage arthritis pain too.

Through therapy and exercise, the joints and soft tissues around it mobilize and PT helps in restoring the functioning, as well as relieving pain. Neck and back pain due to an unhealthy lifestyle, stress, trauma, bad posture, and more, are all potentially treatable through this method.

Prevents injuries

Physical therapy methods help in assessing the weak spots in the patient and create a plan to strengthen them. Brooke Flood from explains that the state of your hip muscles is directly related to how likely you are to get a knee injury since the hip muscles are supposed to keep the leg in proper alignment

By learning about the weakness, the therapist will know where an injury might happen and target the area to build on any weak muscles. Doing so can help to prevent injuries.

Helps in recovery from stroke

People who have suffered a stroke have lost muscle movement or functioning to some extent. To recover from this decline and to strengthen those specific parts of the body, as well as regain balance, physical therapy types can be useful.

You can then become more independent over time. Not only will you feel more in control when doing daily activities but also take the stress off caretakers’ shoulders.

Conditions that can be treated by physical therapy

Physical therapy is a viable treatment for conditions, such as:

  • Vertigo: It is a problem where the patient suffers dizziness for short periods and the head is moved in specific positions. It is an inner-ear problem and can be treated by physical therapy.
  • Arthritis or chronic knee pain: It provides relief to people who have arthritis by working on improving muscle strength and mobility.
  • Frozen shoulder: PT may help restore a greater range of mobility and motion to the shoulder for those with a frozen shoulder.
  • Spondylitis: Provides pain relief, reduces joint stiffness, and increases flexibility. Therapy is customized based on the patient’s condition.
  • Urinary incontinence: The therapist teaches the patient to contract or relax the pelvic muscles to provide relief.
  • Headaches: Headaches are a common and frequent occurrence for some and affect the normal life of people who suffer from them. Physical therapy can alleviate pain in such people based on the type of headache.
  • Neurological conditions: Stroke, injuries to the spinal cord, Parkinson’s and brain injuries can all benefit from physical therapy types.
  • Sports injuries: Examples are a rotator cuff tear, tennis elbow, etc. Getting help when you have pain after working out is possible.
  • Pediatric issues: Including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and delays in development.

Physical therapy benefits

Types of physical therapy

Different physical therapy techniques work for different people, depending on what the issue is, its severity, patient preference, and other factors. The main physical therapy types are:


Pediatric physical therapy focuses on infants, children, or adolescents who have problems with physical movement and learning. The program teaches kids and their parents how to manage conditions.

It also helps to reduce pain and improve control, balance, flexibility, and fine and gross motor skills. Pediatric PT can treat children who are suffering from injuries or diseases, including:

  • Development delays
  • Genetic disorders, such as cerebral palsy
  • Birth defects
  • Trauma or head injuries
  • Muscle illnesses


Bad posture and lifestyle can weaken some muscles and the body compensates for them by overworking other muscles. Then, as you age, these strong muscles are no longer able to work as they once did and, thus, cause pain.

Geriatric therapy helps in using the muscles in an efficient way to prevent injuries and increase fitness. Some of the conditions it can treat are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Incontinence


Physical therapy types can also treat some neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and strokes. These chronic problems affect the nervous system and muscle movements. The treatment involves exercises that can make symptoms more manageable for you.


Pulmonary problems, such as heart attacks, can be manageable through PT by increasing the strength and endurance in the muscles around the heart. In serious issues, the treatment also helps the patient to become more independent than before.


Physical therapy assists you in regaining muscle strength after an injury or surgery. The therapist will design targeted exercises to work on recovering strength.


Of all of the physical therapy types, vestibular might not be one you’ve heard of yet. It helps to regain balance and also aids in recovery from inner ear problems.

The rehabilitation focus here is to overcome any balance issues and make the muscles steady and sturdy.

Final words on physical therapy types

Physical therapy works, but only if it occurs through a well-trained and experienced therapist, with a want to improve from you as the patient. The reason why some people say that physical therapy does not work is that they’re going to a therapist who does not provide effective services or the patient isn’t doing their homework following sessions.

Always follow the directions that the PT professional gives you! If you want to undergo treatment, look for a therapist who understands your needs and provides a proper type of therapy based on your condition.

Have you done physical therapy and, if so, what type? Why or why not?

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