Frequently Asked Questions

Physical Therapy

What do physical therapists do?

Physical therapists are experts in movement and function, and in addition to rehabilitating people from injury, they also focus their skills on preventing injury, loss of movement, and surgical intervention. The foundation of physical therapy treatments is primarily therapeutic exercise and functional training. This includes educating patients on injury prevention, postural re-education, and exercises that patients can continue on their own. Additionally, many physical therapists receive specialized training in manual therapy techniques to address postural, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular pain and dysfunction. Physical therapists also use treatment modalities such as hot and cold packs, ultrasound (which uses high frequency sound waves to produce heat), electrical stimulation to muscles and nerves for pain reduction as well as retraining and strengthening muscles, and mechanical traction for spinal disc injuries. Usually, PTs will use a variety of their skills in one treatment, incorporating therapeutic exercises with the hands-on techniques and mechanical modalities.

How long will the appointments last?

Your initial visit will take approximately an hour. Subsequent visits may last from 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the diagnosis and treatment plan.

What should I wear?

We recommend you bring or wear loose, comfortable clothing to allow the greatest ease in movement and to provide your physical therapist access to the involved body area. We do provide shorts and gowns if needed. We also recommend you wear or bring athletic shoes for proper support during exercises. Please refrain from wearing cologne or perfume to your physical therapy sessions.

Will I see the same therapist each visit?

It is our policy that patients see the same therapist for all visits in order to keep consistency in care and develop a stronger healing relationship. If however, a therapist is out of the office for one or more days, we strongly urge patients to continue with their regularly scheduled appointments to avoid gaps in treatment and set-backs in progress towards goals. Sometimes a patient’s schedule may not match up well with his or her initial therapist’s availability. When this is the case, it may be necessary to alternate therapists to accommodate the patient.

How many visits will I need?

This number of visits varies widely. You may need just one visit or you may need months of care depending on your diagnosis and condition. We will re-evaluate and measure your progress every 3-6 wks at which time a progress report will be faxed to your doctor or sent with you to take to your doctor at your next follow-up appointment.

Will I get a massage at physical therapy?

Massage may be part of your treatment. Physical therapists are trained in a variety of manual techniques which may be part of the rehabilitative process. Massage is used for three reasons typically – to facilitate the decrease of swelling in an area, to relax tight muscles, and to relieve pain.

Will I need to exercise?

Therapeutic exercise is an important part of your rehabilitation program. Compliance with a home exercise program will speed recovery and increase the effectiveness of your therapy. An exercise program developed specifically for you will help minimize re-injury or return of your symptoms. We make sure that all of your exercises are performed correctly in the clinic under supervision before prescribing them for your home program.


Do the needles hurt?

Acupuncture needles are very fine, solid, sterile, stainless steel needles nearly as fine as a piece of human hair. In this respect, they are very different from hypodermic needles used to draw blood or to administer medication. Most of the time, needles are inserted just below the skin’s surface and the sensations vary from person to person. You may feel nothing at all or perhaps a momentary prick, ache or tingling. Once the needles have been inserted, there is usually no pain.

How safe is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is extremely safe. There is little danger of infection since the needles used are sterile and disposed of after each use. Since acupuncture is a drug-free treatment, there are no side-effects, except maybe occasional bruising.

How long do the needles stay in?

Sometimes needles are inserted and left in for 15 – 20 minutes or more and the patient is either lying down or sitting comfortably. Sometimes, and more often the case in five-element acupuncture, the needles are inserted and removed immediately after, and the patient rests for awhile without the needles in. This may vary from treatment to treatment depending on what the person needs.

What should I wear?

It is recommended you wear loose clothing that easy to work around or remove. It may be necessary to remove some clothing or undergarments for access to the necessary points on the body. In such cases, your practitioner will drape and cover you with a sheet, blanket or gown. Many of the most powerful points are located on the arms and legs and will be needled during most visits, so loose pants and/or sleeves is recommended to access these areas. Sports bras with a racer backs are not recommended as they restrict access to the points on the upper back.

What is moxibustion?

Moxibustion is the use of an herb called mugwort (moxa, when dried). Moxa comes in loose form, rolled into sticks, or compressed into small cones. It is lit with an incense stick and burned on the handle of the needle, above the skin, or applied directly to the point. This brings nourishing warmth to the points and increases the effect of the needle. Moxa has a unique odor when burned that is similar to marijuana but is not harmful in any way.


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