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Physical Therapy Not Working? An Expert Reveals What Might Be Holding You Back

There are many reasons why people seek or require physical therapy. Most commonly, patients come to a physical therapy clinic to rehabilitate an injury, decrease pain, or improve function and range of motion. It is typically recommended that patients attend sessions two to three times a week, depending on individual needs and recommendations of the referring physician or physical therapist.

When choosing a physical therapy provider, quality care and communication are of the utmost importance. A physical therapist should prescribe a home exercise program for patients to practice in between sessions. It’s important for patients to do their part by remaining compliant with their home exercise program, a critical piece of the treatment process. We find that patients who are diligent in following their home exercise programs progress more quickly than those who are not.

How to Make the Most of Physical Therapy

In most cases, patients experience lingering pain if they are not consistent with their home program or if they are engaging in activities that could cause an increase in inflammation and pain. During physical therapy sessions, patients should communicate with their therapists regarding their home exercise program, as well as the types of activities they participate in, outside therapy sessions. It’s also important for patients to be aware of the level of pain they’re experiencing, letting their therapists know if their pain has worsened or improved over time, or in between sessions. Feedback will help the physical therapist make necessary adjustments to the program, based on the individual needs of the patient.

In today’s society, poor posture and back pain has become increasingly common, due to people sitting at a desk for long periods of time or consistently looking down at their smartphones.

The most beneficial stretches to help alleviate back pain are standing extensions (or back bends) and lower body stretches, such as hamstring and piriformis stretches. Exercises to help improve posture should focus on strengthening your upper back muscles, such as seated rows or lat pulldowns. Stretching your pectoral muscles will also help improve posture.

How to Treat Injuries With Physical Therapy

Some common injuries we see in the clinic are sprains and strains. Physical therapy treatments for these injuries include a variety of stretches and range of motion (ROM) exercises. From there, patients move to strengthening and proprioception exercises, which help reduce the risk of future injuries.

It’s important to know that physical therapy is not just for rehabbing injuries. If a person is experiencing a nagging pain, a physical therapist can evaluate the patient to determine the cause, and then discuss treatment options with the patient, or refer them to a physician. You don’t want a minor ache to become a major injury.

This article was written by Jaime C. Quinn, DPT, and area manager of Professional Physical Therapy. To find out more, visit

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