Physical Therapy

FAQs on Physical Therapy San Diego Clinics Hear All the Time

Physical therapy is a widely respected treatment that is used for neurologic and musculoskeletal conditions.  Combination treatment plans help alleviate symptoms and provide patients with an effective and conservative means of gaining mobility with increasing pain relief.

Physical therapy is performed by professional physical therapists who have received extensive training in their profession.  Physical therapists in San Diego provide treatment following surgeries, or as a result of injuries sustained with trauma.  Wear and tear conditions that result in degenerative disc problems and arthritis may also require physical therapy for pain relief.

The goal of physical therapy is to improve a person’s range of motion, mobility, balance, coordination and flexibility.  In order to accomplish these goals, physical therapists design a treatment plan that best suits you and your condition.

How Can Physical Therapy Be Used to Provide Pain Relief?


A variety of treatments are involved in physical therapy and these types of treatments are established based on the individual needs of the patient.  Physical therapy may consist of active or passive treatment, or a combination of both.  Active treatment involves direct participation of the patient, while passive therapy is treatment applied to the patient.


Passive physical therapy may be the form of treatment that a patient initially receives for chronic pain.  This kind of physical therapy may include the use of a TENS unit, electrical stimulation, ultrasound or heat and ice application.  In some cases, passive treatment is offered in combination with other forms of treatment for pain reduction (Wittink H, Michel TH, Chronic pain management for physical therapists, 1997).


Active physical therapy involves the patient and direct participation by the patient.  Stretching activities, strengthening exercises and low impact cardio work that conditions the muscles are just some of the active activities involved in this form of physical therapy treatment.


Physical therapy provides pain relief from many conditions.  According to a well-known physical therapist in Eastern Oregon, Tom Watson of Peak Performance PT, “Physical therapy can be highly effective in the treatment of neuropathy and musculoskeletal types of pain.”  Chronic pain can leave a patient curled up in bed and unable to move for days at a time, despite medication and a heating pad, but physical therapy can provide better outcomes. It may decrease the need for opioids and increase the body’s natural painkillers – endorphins.

While active therapy may seem a bit arduous, research shows that patients who participate in stretching and exercise routines designed by their physical therapist have a much better likelihood of reducing symptoms that required them to receive physical therapy in the first place.


Some doctors argue that physical therapy may be one of the best San Diego pain management options for patients who suffer from chronic pain conditions.


Chronic pain conditions that respond well to physical therapy include:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Migraines
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Post-op knee replacement surgeries
  • Post-op back surgeries
  • Neuropathic pain

If you have chronic pain, it is important to see a San Diego pain management specialist to determine what kind of treatment options are available for you.

Is Physical Therapy Painful?


The treatment sessions you receive from your San Diego physical therapist should not be painful; however, the areas of your body that are tender and inflamed may cause pain when therapy is conducted.  It is important to discuss the pain you experience from the treatment with your therapist so that modifications can be made and the pain alleviated (Brennan GP et al. Spine, 1994).

The goal of physical therapy is to decrease pain, while increasing flexibility, range of motion and strength.  Sometimes the therapy and exercise treatments may include stretching or using areas of the body that have been inactive due to pain.  When treatment occurs, some of the muscles may react with minor to midlevel pain.  Discomfort can be reduced through continued treatment.  Your provider will work with you to establish reasonable treatment goals and design a plan that works for you and your condition.  The ultimate goal is to relieve the painful symptoms and reduce discomfort.

How Many Physical Therapy Treatments Will I Require?


There is no definitive number of how many treatments will be needed prior to your first visit.  You and your doctor will work with the physical therapist and pain management specialist to determine what type of program and how many sessions may be needed.  While you may begin requiring only six sessions of physical therapy, that number could be reduced or increased depending on how your body responds to treatment.

The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and increase mobility.  Most of the time, if a patient is suffering from a chronic pain condition, involving the neck or back for example, it could take six to twelve weeks to get the body to the point where treatment is not needed.  Treatment sessions may occur once a week or more depending on how your body responds and what level of pain you have.

If you need physical therapy in the greater San Diego area, let the California Pain Network help you. The Network connects those in pain with the best pain management San Diego has to offer including pain doctors, chiropractors, acupuncture and physical therapy.


Simply fill out the form on this page or call (619) 500-1573 today!