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4 Surprising Conditions That Physical Therapy Can Treat

December 13, 2022

Injured professional athletes working to get back on the field or older people recovering from knee surgery—that’s typically what comes to mind when we think of physical therapy. Physical therapists are movement experts, and they treat a lot of different conditions—probably more than you’d think! Here are some of more surprising conditions that physical therapy can treat.   

Temporomandibular joint disfunction. Our jaw joints are among the most-used joints in our bodies. We use them to speak and eat every day. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD) happens when there is pain in this joint, changes in a person’s ability to open or close the mouth, or clicking and grinding in the joint. Physical therapy is one way this condition is treated. A physical therapist would examine the joint and teach the patient the proper way to open and close the joint or model good posture that helps support the joint. 

Vertigo. Vertigo is a sensation of dizziness or spinning that is commonly caused by the dislodgement of crystals in the inner ear. This causes some miscommunication between the brain and the body. Physical therapists can help return these crystals to their original position by performing the Epley Maneuver, a series of head movements that helps to realign components of the inner ear. This specifically treats a specific type of vertigo called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. 

Constipation. No matter how you describe it, constipation is an uncomfortable problem. It is described as having fewer than three bowel movements a week or experiencing hard stools that are difficult to pass. Common treatments include diet modification, stool softeners, or laxatives. All those treatments come with side effects that could exacerbate gastrointestinal problems. But research has shown that physical therapy in the form of abdominal massage is an effective treatment for constipation that comes with no known side effects.  

Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of foot pain. More than 2 million people in the United States are treated for it every year. The plantar fascia ligament runs from the heel to the ball of the foot, and when it torn or stresses, causes a variety of pain in the foot. 

It can also cause stiffness or swelling in the ankles or a tight Achilles tendon. Physical therapy can strengthen the ligament and help solve the source of the problem before a patient needs to turn to medication or surgery.   

Not only do they help patients recover from injuries, physical therapists can also help to prevent injuries, hospitalizations, and surgery. Ask your doctor if physical therapy is right for you.  

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners