Navigate Up

​​Obtaining Physical Therapy

By Stephen F. Conti, MD

Orthopaedic surgeons often recommend physical therapy to help a patient’s healing process and restore physical abilities. It may be prescribed as a course of treatment for a musculoskeletal injury or chronic condition, or after surgical procedures to improve results and ensure a successful outcome.

PT Basics

Physical therapy may start with a prescription from your orthopaedic surgeon outlining the exact diagnosis and recommendations for treatment.

The goal of physical therapy is to help patients build strength, flexibility and range of motion. It has two components:

  • Outpatient physical therapy provided by specialists at a certified rehabilitation facility;
  • Exercises performed independently at home by the patient;

Your orthopaedic surgeon and physical therapist are in close communication concerning diagnosis, treatment, and progress.

The Patient’s Role

The success of your physical therapy depends on your commitment to the program. Patients who attend in-office therapy appointments a few times a week, but do not continue their exercises at home, may not experience the full benefits of the therapy.

During your first physical therapy session, the therapist will evaluate your injury or condition, discuss your goals and specific needs, and develop an individualized treatment plan. It’s important to make sure your therapist:

  • Fully explains what will be done during the session
  • Demonstrates the exercises you’re expected to do at home

Remember, your physical therapist cannot do it without you! The therapist can provide you with the tools to recover but it’s up to you to follow through with the prescribed home exercises and stretches.

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |