The first thing that comes to mind when many people envision the conditions that a physical therapist treats is typically something like a knee injury or a back problem. These are common ailments that send individuals to physical therapists in droves in order to reduce pain, improve quality of life, regain physical functionality and so forth. However, physical therapists treat an extremely wide range of conditions and problems, and it’s worth a moment to learn more about this diverse set of ailments, injuries and conditions that physical therapy deals with directly.
The list of conditions that physical therapists list is actually pretty vast. Starting with some of the basic, you’ll find issues such as bone fractures, arthritis, common hand injuries, dislocations, osteoporosis, muscle tears and injuries and on down the line. You might not immediately realize however that physical therapy also covers burn injuries, traumatic brain injury which has impaired physical functionality, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and its symptoms, carpal tunnel syndrome, stroke and developmental delays.
Cancer patients that need to rebuild strength and regain physical functionality are often patients, as are major surgery patients who have new hips or knees implanted, and even patients recovering from comas who have lost a great deal of their muscle mass and tone, for example. Headaches, balance, incontinence and a number of sometimes seemingly unrelated conditions or problems can be solved or improved through physical therapy.
The type of conditions that you will be treating as a physical therapist will of course also vary dependent on where you’re working. In a acute care setting in a hospital, you will likely be dealing with many people recovering from traumatic accidents, major surgeries or severe illnesses. On the other hand, you might work in a private practice facility focusing on sports injuries and conditions, or a long term rehabilitation or nursing facility which has its own unique scope of patients and corresponding conditions and treatments.
Another important thing to consider is distinguishing between treating a condition, and treating symptoms of other conditions. This is where proper examination and diagnosis becomes crucial to your success and to the success of the treatments you are using for a patient. The true condition needs to be discovered, and treatments need to be designed around improving that or ridding a patient of that, not merely getting rid of a symptom.
Of course, there are certainly a number of conditions where the problem itself will never go away. In this case, improving that as much as possible while working on symptoms such as pain management and reduction and improved quality of life will be important as the main priority.
The list of conditions and ailments that physical therapists treat is certainly a lengthy one. You might end up specializing in your career and dealing with a smaller range, or you may work in a setting that only brings in patients of certain types. But the range is limitless, and physical therapy benefits so many patients of all kinds each and every day.