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Does Physical Therapy stand for Physical Torture or Pain and Torture?

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  • Written By: Brittany Johnson, DPT
Does Physical Therapy stand for Physical Torture or Pain and Torture?

You may have heard someone you know refer to physical therapy as physical torture or pain and torture.

Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that physical therapy will hurt. This misconception might discourage patients from attending therapy, which can lead to a longer recovery time, prolonged pain and further limitations in function.

Physical therapists typically do not follow the well-known saying of “no pain, no gain.” So why does physical therapy get such a bad rap for being painful?

When a person is in pain, it is the physical therapist’s job to determine the cause of pain and a treatment plan in order to help relieve pain. Following an orthopedic surgery or an injury, doctors will often recommend physical therapy in order to help you restore function to what you injured—such as a shoulder, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle, to name a few. These initial days and weeks of healing from the surgery/injury are often painful for the patient whether you attend therapy or not.

Upon starting physical therapy, your therapist will likely perform range of motion exercises in order to improve the mobility of the affected body part. This can be uncomfortable initially but should become less painful overtime. If the motion is not achieved early, the gains will be much harder to achieve and more painful as more time passes by.

As you progress in your program, there will come at time when you will begin strengthening exercises in order to return to a functional level. During this phase of your treatment, there is often a new form of discomfort that accompanies the awaited increase in your function. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a term used for the muscle soreness that typically affects muscles after they have performed unaccustomed or strenuous activity.

Keep in mind, you may experience some of the pain or discomfort as described above, however your therapist will protect your surgery/injury by trying to limit the amount of discomfort you experience as you progress through your program, while still challenging you in order to increase your overall function.

If you are interested in seeing how physical therapy can help you restore movement after an injury or a surgery, contact CCH Rehabilitation Services. Our compassionate and experienced staff helps each patient, in a team-oriented atmosphere, reach their goals. Call 307.688.8000 to make an appointment, or visit to learn more.

Brittany Johnson, DPT, is a physical therapist who sees patients at CCH Rehabilitation Services at 508 Stocktrail Avenue in Gillette, Wyoming.

  • Category: Rehabilitation Services, Surgery