Physical therapy, as one of the forms of physiotherapy, works by improving the function of various organ systems, reducing pain and inflammation and improving function of the nervous system. It uses various modalities for treatment: electric currents, ultrasound, light and magnetic fields. Physical therapy can be used as a complementary therapy or as a primary form of treatment. It can be used when other treatments have failed. Physical therapy can be combined with pharmacological therapy.
The beginnings of physical therapy date back over 2000 years (460-380 BC). In the beginning it was limited to the use of mineral waters (still used in sanatoriums today), sunlight or electrical currents, such as certain species of fish applied directly to the skin. Currently specialized devices are used, allowing for precise dosage and ensuring the highest safety standards of the procedures performed. These devices are designed to meet stringent technical standards.
The best results are gained through combined treatment, where several forms of therapy are combined during one session at the physiotherapy clinic. It is possible to use electrotherapy with magnetotherapy, ultrasound and electrotherapy as well as various other combinations. It is important to remember to combine therapies for which there are no contraindications. It is also important to choose the best from and dose of procedure, which should be individually tailored to the specific disease of interest, functional status and illnesses of the patient.
Some treatments in the field of physical therapy do not require prior preparation. Magnetotherapy, for example, can be performed while wearing clothes and even through an orthopedic splint or cast. In the cases of electrotherapy, laser therapy and ultrasound, it is necessary to expose the part of the body being treated. Both magnetotherapy and laser therapy do not cause any sensation. Other stimuli, such as electric currents, stimulate sensory nerve endings. This may be perceived as a tingling or prickling sensation. An intense response, such as burning or pain, is abnormal and is a signal to immediately stop the therapy. Electrotherapy treatments cause a reaction in the form of redness where the electrode was attached to the skin, which is normal. This reaction disappears within 30 minutes.