There’s always an element of patient education to help people discover what they are doing on a daily basis that could be contributing to their problem. The physical therapist may need to re-educate a person on lifting something correctly or moving properly.
During a PT session, the therapist usually applies hands-on techniques such as joint mobilization for a stiff joint, or soft-tissue work of stretching or massaging tight muscles. Some physical therapists also do manual manipulation, which uses careful, directed manual force to improve mobility in joints, connective tissue or skeletal muscles.
PT always involves exercises of some sort, from a low-level stretch all the way to a well-rounded strengthening program. Physical therapy modalities are rehabilitation technologies that relieve pain, reduce swelling, decrease muscle spasms and improve circulation. These modalities include ultrasound, trigger-point pressure, dry needling, soft-tissue oscillation, electrical stimulation, traction, biofeedback, heat and ice. The exercise prescription and hands-on techniques are central to each PT session.