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What Does A Physical Therapist Do?

A physical therapist’s job is to help people with mobility problems that are caused by an injury or illness. They also work on sports injuries, helping athletes get back into shape after an injury has sidelined them.

Is Physical Therapy Good For Joint Pain?

Physical therapy has been proven effective at relieving joint pain in most cases, especially when combined with exercise programs that target core strength and flexibility. Our physical therapists will work with you one-on-one on an individual basis so that your program is tailored just for you!

Can Physical Therapy Cure My Back Pain?

Physical therapy is an effective treatment that many patients consider when they’re looking for relief from chronic back pain. In fact, physical therapy has been shown to provide significant benefits for those who suffer from lower-back problems.

Can Physical Therapy Help With Neck Pain?

Physical therapy for neck pain has proven effective in helping patients deal with their symptoms while also preventing further damage from occurring. Our physical therapists will work with you to find out what is causing your problem and develop an exercise program tailored specifically for your needs. We’ll help you feel better fast!

How Does Physical Therapy Help Reduce pain?

Physical therapy works by combining multiple techniques into an overall treatment plan that helps you improve movement in all parts of your body while getting rid of chronic muscle tension and tightness that can cause painful symptoms like headaches, numbness, or weakness.

Is Physical Therapy painful?

For many patients, one of the primary objectives is pain relief. This is frequently accomplished with hands-on techniques, modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and/or heat or cold therapy. Movement often provides pain relief as well. Your Physical Therapist will provide you with the appropriate exercises not only for pain relief, but to recover range of motion, strength, and endurance.


In some cases, Physical Therapy techniques can be painful. For example, recovering knee range of motion after total knee replacement, or shoulder range of motion after shoulder surgery, may be painful. Your Physical Therapist will utilize a variety of techniques to help maximize your treatment goals. It is important that you communicate the intensity, frequency, and duration of pain to your Therapist. Without this information, it is difficult for the Physical Therapist to adjust your treatment plan.

Why is Physical Therapy a good choice?

More than half of all Americans are suffering from pain. Whether it is acute pain or chronic pain, there’s a ton of evidence showing that pain in America is a widespread problem that commonly results in sick days from work, and can be a precursor to opioid use and dependency. However, many do not even know that Physical Therapists are well equipped to not only manage pain but also its source.

Physical Therapists are experts at treating movement and neuro-musculoskeletal disorders. Pain often accompanies a movement disorder, and Physical Therapists can help correct the disorder and relieve the pain.

How is PT different here at Illinois Back Institute?

For years, we’ve been told that neck and back pain is something to cope with, that damage to discs cannot be fixed or changed. As a result, patients with neck or back pain undergo invasive surgeries or take strong medications for temporary back pain relief that never lasts. Patients like you live everyday with pain. The Illinois Back Institute sought a better way, and developed a non-surgical, natural treatment to provide neck and back pain relief.

“Functional Disc Stabilization” does the impossible by rehydrating discs, reversing the effects of herniated and degenerated discs. In a formal research study, Functional Disc Stabilization has been proven to be twice as effective as even the best therapies.

How long will it take for me to get better?

How quickly you recover is determined by many factors unique to you. These factors include the extent of damaged tissue, how long you have had the injury, your nutritional habits, your emotional state, the state of your immune and endocrine systems, your genetic predisposition and other factors. We will review these factors with you when you come in for your evaluation. If appropriate, we can refer you to a physician or other practitioner who can address specific needs. Your body’s response to exercises and manual techniques will also help us to estimate how long it could take for you to regain function.

Can I continue my regular exercises?

A skilled and experienced physical therapist will carefully evaluate the extent and nature of your injury, as well as your ability and desire to exercise. We will probably prescribe a specific rehabilitation exercise program for you until you have recovered from your injury. However, if we think continuing your regular exercise program would be beneficial, we will encourage you to continue.

What happens in a therapy session?

There’s always an element of patient education to help people discover what they are doing on a daily basis that could be contributing to their problem. The physical therapist may need to re-educate a person on lifting something correctly or moving properly. During a PT session, the therapist usually applies hands-on techniques such as joint mobilization for a stiff joint, or soft-tissue work of stretching or massaging tight muscles. Some physical therapists also do manual manipulation, which uses careful, directed manual force to improve mobility in joints, connective tissue or skeletal muscles.

PT always involves exercises of some sort, from a low-level stretch all the way to a well-rounded strengthening program. Physical therapy modalities are rehabilitation technologies that relieve pain, reduce swelling, decrease muscle spasms and improve circulation. These modalities include ultrasound, trigger-point pressure, dry needling, soft-tissue oscillation, electrical stimulation, traction, biofeedback, heat and ice. The exercise prescription and hands-on techniques are central to each PT session.

Why does physical therapy take longer than I had thought?

Physical therapy is not a quick fix. PT follows the way our anatomy and bodies operate. There’s a certain amount of time that is required for certain types of tissue in the body to repair themselves. If you try to speed up the process, you could experience a re-injury. So physical therapy takes some patience and perseverance, and you’ve got to keep up with the program to experience the gains. Physical recovery happens in stages, and you have to be present for the whole program, from beginning to end, if you want lasting results.

What’s the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy (OT)?

Physical therapy deals with the entire body, anywhere from the inner ear and vision to the arms and legs. Physical therapists look at the body as a whole and are focused on getting people up and walking and working on balance, overall strength and core strength. Occupational therapy specializes a little more in the upper extremities, arms and hands. OT is very task-related and goes more into depth with someone’s fine motor skills and memory-type exercises and cognitive strategies. Often PTs and OTs collaborate with others on a therapy team—doctors, nurses, social workers, speech therapists, recreational therapists and music therapists.

How does physical therapy differ for older adults?

The timeline of healing and recovery is going to be longer, because with the aging process, seniors don’t heal as quickly as someone younger. But at the same time, seniors are not a population of people who should be discounted. You look at the individual, what their life is like, how active they are and their motivation. You may not be as aggressive with some of the modalities and exercises for seniors, but you continue to treat them like you would anyone else. You just expect their physical recovery to take longer.

Why do I have to do these exercises? Some of them make me sore.

Physical therapists sometimes push people beyond their limit or comfort zone a little bit, encouraging them to go beyond what they think they can do. Physical therapists try to look at things objectively and implement different tests with patients. We try to empower people to kind of fix themselves. We don’t want them to have to keep coming back. Ultimately, we’re trying to get people to a point where they can maintain themselves and do their exercises at home or at the gym and go on with their lives. We push people so they can be independent and not reliant on us, medication or other treatments.

What’s next after physical therapy?

Throughout your sessions of physical therapy, your therapist will be providing you with home exercises and self-management techniques to promote independence towards reaching your goals and returning to your prior level of function.

Can my therapist provide me with a diagnosis?

​After a thorough examination and interview process, it is our mission to provide you with a rehabilitative explanation of your musculoskeletal system.

What if my problem or pain returns?

Many patients may go weeks, months or years before their symptoms return. It is our duty to provide you with the techniques and self-management exercises to manage your symptoms independently throughout your time at physical therapy. In the instance that your symptoms do return, we offer a 15-minute consultation to discuss your symptoms and concerns to determine if returning to physical therapy is the right option for you.

What happens during my first visit?

During your first visit, a thorough interview, evaluation and examination will be performed that is tailored to your expressed symptoms. This can include various manual techniques, exercises, movement analyses and general education to assist with self-management techniques. You should expect to move throughout your treatment, so we recommend bringing comfy clothes and supportive shoes. Other interventions that may be utilized including electrical stimulation therapy, cold therapy, heat therapy, as well as ultrasound therapy to address pain and inflammation management.

Why are people referred to physical therapy?

​There are many reasons patients may be referred to physical therapy, including neck, low back pain, migraines, pre and post-operative rehabilitation, migraine management, pre and post-partum pelvic floor management, arthritis symptom management, vestibular rehabilitation or generalized strengthening and balance training to reduce fall occurrences.  Our main priority is to get you to regain your functional independence and return to your desired lifestyle.