When Should I go to Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is defined as “therapy for the preservation, enhancement, or restoration of movement and physical function impaired or threatened by disease, injury, or disability that utilizes therapeutic exercise, physical modalities (such as massage and electrotherapy), assistive devices, and patient education and training”.1

The overall goal of physical therapy is to improve movement, whether it is to be able to run a marathon after knee surgery, or to be able to walk after years of cartilage degeneration. In this post we will discuss a few different events that may require you to attend physical therapy.

Chronic Pain

Our bodies go through a natural healing process after injury that can take up to three months, if the pain is still lingering it may be classified as chronic pain. Visiting a physical therapist may help reduce inflammation and manage painful conditions. Some chronic pain conditions include:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Nerve pain (neuropathy)
  • Migraines
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Sciatica
  • and much more

Acute Pain

This is by far one of the most overlooked reasons for going to a physical therapist. Most individuals think that an acute injury will heal on its own and many times that is the case; however, pain occurs when our bodies are functioning improperly and correcting the improper functions earlier on can help avoid further complications.

Post Operation

If you recently suffered from a musculoskeletal injury that required surgery, you may need physical therapy to retrain and rehabilitate your injury. Surgeries are very common for the following conditions:

  • Rotator cuff tear
  • ACL/MCL/PCL tear
  • Ankle sprains
  • ATFL/ OFL tear
  • Bulging/herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • much more.

Young Athletes

Active individuals of all ages are at risk for musculoskeletal injuries, but those who are in the pediatric and adolescent population are at a much higher risk. The pediatric and adolescent population are at a higher risk because their bones and tissues are not fully developed. More importantly, improper technique, overuse, and failure to take conservative measures may cause injury. A physical therapist can assist in all of these areas and be sure that yourself or your child can have a safe and effective sports season.

Motor Vehicle Accident

If you have been in a motor vehicle accident, a physical therapist can assess your conditions and create a plan of care to help you recover. Here are many common conditions or issues that arise after a vehicle accident:

  • Coordination and balance issues (vestibular)
  • Whiplash and neck sprains that may lead to headaches
  • Spine injuries that may cause limitations to movement
  • Sore and stiffness of the shoulders, neck and arms

Preventative Measures

Being physically active helps reduce pain and decreases the chance long term health conditions. Standard wear and tear is something we cannot avoid as we age; although, staying healthy and fit, using proper body mechanics, and taking preventative measures can allow for a less painful and more functional life.


“Physical Therapy.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/physical%20therapy.

Denali Physical Therapy has two convenient locations in Anchorage to better serve you.

Denali Midtown on LaTouche: 907-563-2122

Denali Physical Therapy on Boniface: 907-563-2141