Myths and Facts About Physical Therapy

Coastal Ortho has a reputation throughout Southern California as a leading orthopedic practice for good reason. We’ve been diagnosing and treating knee, hip, hand, shoulder, spine, and ankle problems since 1971, using the latest, most innovative, evidence-based approaches. From regenerative medicine to minimally invasive surgery, our extensive team of specialists offers cutting-edge treatments tailored to individual needs. 

We have several physical therapists on our Coastal Ortho staff who work closely with our orthopedic surgeons. Each has earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), passed rigorous licensure exams, completed hands-on residency programs, and has years of experience. In this blog post, we’re taking the opportunity to dispel some common myths about physical therapy

The truth about physical therapy

Physical therapy isn’t a singular treatment; it’s a combination of several modalities, including:

  • Manual therapy, hands-on treatment to improve joint and muscle function
  • Exercise therapy, specific exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles
  • Aquatic therapy, performed in a pool to ease joint pain or mobility issues

These are only a few of the many forms of PT we use to customize your treatment plan and address your specific condition and symptoms. For example, we may develop a plan to improve your range of motion, increase strength and flexibility, relieve pain, or improve your balance and coordination. 

Although physical therapy is particularly effective in treating injuries like sprains, strains, and fractures as well as conditions such as arthritis and chronic pain, we also use it for injury prevention. By helping you get stronger and maintain your balance, PT helps you avoid falls, rolled ankles, posture problems, and repetitive stress injuries. 

Myths and facts about physical therapy

Despite its proven effectiveness, there are several myths surrounding physical therapy that could stop you from seeking the treatment you need. Here, we debunk seven common myths about physical therapy, and highlight the facts.

Myth #1: Physical therapy is only for sports injuries

FACT: True, physical therapy treats sports injuries, and several of our Coastal Ortho PTs specialize in sports medicine. However, PT also treats various health conditions, like back pain and arthritis, and post-surgical rehabilitation.

Myth #2: Physical therapy is painful and uncomfortable

FACT: While physical therapy may involve some initial discomfort, it shouldn’t be painful. In fact, many Coastal Ortho physical therapy techniques, such as massage and stretching, are relaxing and soothing.

Myth #3: Physical therapy takes a long time to be effective

FACT: The length of your physical therapy treatment depends on your unique symptoms and condition, but many Coastal Ortho patients see improvement in just a few sessions.

Myth #4: Physical therapy is only for older adults

FACT: Physical therapy benefits people of all ages, from children with developmental delays to athletes recovering from injuries, to older adults who want to preserve strength, flexibility, and balance as they age.

Myth #5: Physical therapy isn’t covered by insurance

FACT: While your coverage depends on your carrier’s policy, many insurance plans cover physical therapy partially or fully, and we accept most major insurance plans

There are also government programs that can help cover the cost of treatment, such as the Medical Therapy Program through California Children’s Services. Our staff helps you explore financial assistance options. Plus, PT could reduce your need for medication and surgery, saving you money in the long run.

Myth #6: Physical therapy is not as effective as surgery

FACT: In many cases, physical therapy can be just as effective as surgery. In fact, we often recommend physical therapy as a first line of treatment before considering surgery. For example, spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spine that compresses nerves, often calls for surgery to restore the spinal structure and relieve nerve pressure. 

However, one study shows that patients who participated in physical therapy attained the same level of pain relief and restored function as those who underwent surgery. Even two years later, the surgery and physical therapy patients reported the same level of pain relief and improved function. 

Myth #7: Physical therapy is just exercise

FACT: Physical therapy focuses on increasing mobility, so movement is a big part of your Coastal Ortho PT experience, including exercises that target specific muscles, joints, and ligaments. However, PT also includes modalities such as: 

  • Electrical stimulation
  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Kinesiology taping
  • Light and laser therapy
  • Joint mobilization

While exercise and stretching are essential aspects of PT, the movements are precise and designed to address specific issues, promoting healing and strengthening the support structure around your injury.

Find out how physical therapy can benefit you

Discover how physical therapy can improve your life — call us in Torrance or El Segundo, California, today, or request an appointment online with our Coastal Ortho team any time.