The field of physical therapy is quite broad. Generally, though, it encompasses methods of rehabilitation for the physically impaired. The aim is to restore or increase mobility, function and quality of life.

Without further ado, consider some common forms of physical therapy (PT) and their uses.

Common Types of Physical Therapy

There are countless specialties that make up the whole of PT. Here are some of the most common.


This is by far the most common form of physical therapy. It treats disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. In other words, injury or disease that affects the muscles, bones, ligaments or tendons.

Orthopedic therapists provide treatment after surgeries, sports injuries, amputations and so forth. Treatments may consist of joint mobilization, strength training, electrical stimulation or other methods.



This form of PT is for those with neurological disorders or diseases. This includes Alzheimer’s, brain or spinal cord injuries, MS, Parkinson’s and stroke. Depending on the condition, therapy may address issues from paralysis to vision impairment to difficulty balancing. Therapists work to reduce dysfunction and help patients to regain independence.

Cardiovascular and Pulmonary

Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation physical therapists treat people with cardiopulmonary disorders and those recovering from heart (cardiac) or lung (pulmonary) surgery. The main goal is to build up patient’s endurance, which reduces fatigue and discomfort.


This form of physical therapy is mainly for patients with edema or lymph node problems. Such conditions cause fluids to accumulate in the arms and legs, which can be quite painful. Therapists use compression, exercise and other treatments to remove the fluids.


Specifically for older individuals, this helps them to overcome and manage common issues. These may include arthritis, osteoporosis, difficulty balancing or walking and painful joints. Addressing these issues helps older ones to remain active and manage pain.

Of course,there are many other types of PT including pediatric, vestibular and so on. They all aim to improve mobility or function in some way. Yet, they can often serve other purposes as well. Like what?

Additional Benefits of Physical Therapy

It can prevent or reverse obesity. Engaging regularly and physical activity can help to prevent individuals from becoming overweight or obese. Too, it can also reverse obesity, which may be the cause of problems that land a person in PT in the first place.

For example, a person carrying a significant amount of extra weight is putting quite a bit of strain on his or her joints. This may lead to pain and other issues. PT will tackle those issues and likely help to gradually reduce weight and the strain it causes.

It can serve as an alternative to drug use and abuse.  The #ChoosePT campaign is bringing awareness to the opioid problem in the US. Medications such a Vicodin, Oxycontin and Percocet are often prescribed to manage pain. Yet, they do not really address the underlying problems causing the pain. Instead, they often cause more problems.

Opioids increase the risk of depression, overdose, withdrawals and addiction. What’s worse is that addicted individuals are an astounding 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroine. Are the serious risks of opioids worth the temporary relief from pain? No. But what is the alternative?

If you guessed “physical therapy,” you’d be correct. This form of safe pain management addresses the root of the problem without the side effects.