7 Conditions You May Not Realize Physical Therapists Treat

The month of October is National Physical Therapy Month, where clinics like PhysioFit and the American Physical Therapy Association take the opportunity to recognize physical therapy professionals around the world and encourage you to learn about the many benefits of physical therapy.

There are many people that have seen a physical therapist (PT) for common reasons such as low back pain or knee pain. Yet there are many different conditions that PTs may treat that you may not be aware of.

The following is a list of conditions that may be treated by a PT.

1. Vertigo: Vertigo is a spinning sensation and can occur even when you are perfectly still. The most common form of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is a mechanical inner ear problem that causes short periods of this spinning sensation when the head is moved in certain positions. When treated by a PT, positional vertigo can be eliminated in as little as one session.

2. Cancer: Between 70 to 100% of people with cancer live with severe exhaustion, or fatigue. It may be a side effect of chemotherapy drugs or a symptom of the cancer itself. Staying in bed for long stretches of time because of fatigue can make you lose muscle tone, called deconditioning. That muscle loss can make basic activities like walking or showering feel overwhelming. But getting more rest isn’t always the solution. In fact, exercise may be the most effective way to combat cancer-related exhaustion, according to a 2017 review of 113 studies from JAMA Oncology.

When someone’s battling deconditioning after radiation or chemo, they often don’t know where to begin with exercise. A physical therapist will help get you moving again by educating you on safe, effective motions that will build muscle, but won’t interfere with your diagnosis or treatment. ”

3. Concussion: In recent years, concussions have received a lot of attention in the news as doctors and athletes are seeking ways to manage long term problems brought on by a concussion. These long term issues can include dizziness/vertigo, balance problems, or complaints of headaches, all of which can be treated by a PT. There is a very specific balance of returning to normal activities with symptom management to allow the individual who had the concussion to fully recover.

4. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or jaw pain: Jaw pain can be due to many different problems, but one of the biggest includes poor posture which leads to increased stress on the joint. A PT can address postural issues, assess and improve the alignment of the joint, as well as improve joint mobility to reduce pain.

5. Urinary Incontinence: Most common in women, incontinence can be due to many different conditions including pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, pelvic floor weakness or spasm, or overall deconditioning. A PT can help to strengthen the proper muscles with a variety of techniques. Depending on your symptoms, a PT may recommend using a biofeedback tool where electrodes may be placed vaginally to provide measurements of muscle activity. This can help teach a patient to relax or contract the pelvic floor muscles to help decrease symptoms.

6. Headaches: There are many different type of headaches including tension headaches, migraines and cluster headaches to name a few. Often times, headaches can become a very frequent occurrence that affects a persons ability to function on a daily basis. The most common type of headaches may be caused by poor posture, stress, muscle tightness, or a neck injury. A PT can help to determine the type of headaches and what the best treatments may be to help alleviate symptoms. A PT can perform manual massage to help loosen up tight muscles and can teach the patient about proper posture of the neck and upper body to decrease stress and tension through this area that might be leading to these headaches.

7. Lymphedema: Lymphedema is swelling that may occur in the arms and legs that is stemming from your lymphatic system. It is very common after certain type of cancer treatments, such as breast cancer, where lymph nodes may be removed. A trained PT can perform certain types of lymphatic drainage massage or use certain wrapping techniques to help decrease swelling in a limb.

If you have experienced, or currently are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider seeking out our trained Physical Therapists who can help with your symptom management.

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kim gladfelter physiofit 1ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim Gladfelter, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Women's Health Physical Therapy Specialist at PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness

Kim Gladfelter is a physical therapist, Pilates instructor, educator, author, and co-founder of PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness. She is known as a keen, well-rounded expert of healing through movement and women’s health specialist in the Silicon Valley area.

Kim has helped men and women of all ages to stay active and feel their best. She also writes about managing pain in her health columns, blogs and the local Los Altos Town Crier newspaper as well as reaches out to the local community, support groups, schools, libraries, and sports centers to advise and educate on body awareness and therapeutic exercise.

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