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Reviewed 2/3/2023




Physical therapists (PTs) are experts in movement. They can help people reach their fitness goals and maintain independent, active lives. How much do you know about the many ways PTs can help you?


True or false? PTs mostly treat people who are recovering from orthopedic surgery.

False. Orthopedic care is only one part of physical therapy. PTs may also help with a wide range of other issues, such as:

  • Chronic pain.
  • Developmental disabilities.
  • Heart or lung problems.
  • Cancer and lymphedema.
  • Neurological issues, like multiple sclerosis.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Urinary incontinence.
  • Wounds.

True or false? Increasing the use of physical therapy could help alleviate the opioid epidemic.

True. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says physical therapy can be a safe and effective alternative to opioids for chronic pain. Opioids come with the risk of addiction and overdose.

True or false? Your doctor might refer you to a PT to help you avoid surgery.

True. Physical therapy has been found to work just as well as surgery for some conditions. These include:

  • Knee osteoarthritis.
  • Rotator cuff tears in the shoulder.
  • Spinal stenosis.
  • Degenerative disk disease.

True or false? PTs work almost exclusively in hospitals.

False. Many do work in hospitals. But you can also find PTs providing care in:

  • Outpatient clinics.
  • Homes.
  • Schools.
  • Sports and fitness clubs.
  • Workplaces.
  • Nursing homes.

True or false? Physical therapy can include many types of treatment.

True. PTs may use a variety of techniques depending on your health needs. Examples include hands-on manipulation, patient education, working with exercise equipment, stretching maneuvers, dry needling, exercise and aquatic therapy.

Occupational therapy can also be helpful for many people. Test your knowledge of occupational therapy by taking this quiz.


Sources: American Physical Therapy Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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The information found in the Health Library is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor does it represent the views or position of WHMC. Readers should always consult with their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including for specific medical needs.