Stages of Care
The typical patient will encounter 3 stages of care. The first stage focuses on symptomatic relief such as reduction of pain and other discomforts. The following stage addresses tissue healing and function normalization. The final stage consists of strength training to prevent the formation of new injuries, minimize future flare-ups of old injuries, and prevent degenerative processes from occurring.
Relief CareRelief care is the first stage of care for most patients. The primary goal during this initial stage is to provide the individual with symptomatic relief. Treatments focus on those techniques and therapies which most quickly and effectively reduce pain and other discomforts. Patients are generally recommended to "take it easy" but are encouraged to stay mobile and functional so long as there is not a risk of further injury or tissue damage. Therapies that reduce inflammation and muscle spasm are also used during this stage when present.
Corrective CareThe second stage of care consists of correcting the problems which caused and contributed to the condition and healing and rehabilitating the injured tissues. Unless these events take place, a favorable outcome is unlikely and future recurrences of the problem are likely. It is extremely important that the patient comply with and follow the instructions given by the physical therapist during this stage of care. Tissues and structures that are not fully healed and rehabilitated are prone to future problems. Sticking to appointments and following all other recommendations provided by the therapist will help insure this occurs. Patients should also be aware that once pain and discomfort have subsided, tissue healing and functional correction is many times still incomplete and will often require additional treatments.
Wellness CareOnce the tissues are healed and biomechanics have normalized, the patient will be instructed to continue strength training in the form of a home exercise program. For some this might mean once per day, for others this may mean once per week. Strength training allows the body to function at full capacity significantly decreases the recurrence of pain, discomfort and irreversible tissue and joint changes.