Physical therapist holding a woman's elbow

Published on March 28, 2022

How long do physical therapy programs take?

Each year, half of all Americans over 18 years old will develop a chronic musculoskeletal injury. And, those injuries are reported to cause the loss of more working years of life than all forms of cancer and heart disease combined.

This means that people who suffer nonfatal injuries run the risk of not being able to support themselves if they can’t properly recover.

Believe it or not, physical therapy programs have the potential to help you make a full recovery from an injury and improve your quality of life, therefore leaving you with the ability to return to your daily routine.

How long does it take though, you may ask.

Well, we’re here to give you the answer to that question, along with giving you other helpful information surrounding physical therapy: what is it? What is it good for?

Keep reading to find the answers to all those questions, and then some.


Physical therapy is a type of physical rehabilitation through exercising. It’s done in order to improve someone’s physical stamina and structure by decreasing pain and stiffness in the body. It is also sometimes referred to as physiotherapy.

In physical therapy treatments, a therapist will help you to improve on something that is bothering you, such as an injury, stiffness, or loss of mobility.

Physical therapy is for people of all ages and sizes and can help treat issues and concerns relating to injuries, illnesses, and accidents, just to name a few.


There are a few different reasons why it would be a good idea to seek out physical therapy. From a sports injury to an accident-related injury to even just everyday pain, physical therapy can be the answer to your problem.

Some signs you should give physical therapy a try include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Loss of balance
  • You require pain medication
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Noticeable changes
  • Sharp pains
  • Diminished performance
  • Recovery from stroke or paralysis


While physical therapy can help many different people experiencing many different health issues and concerns, it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all type of thing. For example, somebody who’s older is more likely to heal slower than someone younger.

Because of this, there’s no right or wrong answer to how long physical therapy treatment can take. The length of the program will depend on the rate at which the person who is being treated heals. Since everyone heals at different rates, the length of the program can vary.

Something else to keep in mind is that not everyone decides to try out physical therapy at the same point. You may get injured and decide right away to go to physical therapy, while somebody else can experience the same injury but not decide to try out physical therapy until months or even years later.

In this case, their program can take much longer than yours, as their body may have begun to change in other ways due to compensating for the injury and therefore need more work to return to normal, such as a decrease in the health of their tissue in the surrounding area.

Your physical therapist should keep track of your progress and the goals you’re reaching throughout your sessions. This not only will help to ensure you’re making progress in your program but also can give you a sort of recovery timeline so you can get an idea of when you can finish with your physical therapy services.


Because everybody is different, your doctor will best be able to tell you how often you should expect to attend physical therapy. You may have to start by going three times a week or you may only have to start with once a week, it’s different for every person.

So, how often you should attend physical therapy depends both on your initial diagnosis or health concern as well as how serious the injury is. After your initial consultation with your physical therapist, they should have an idea of how often they think you should attend sessions and therefore talk about your options with you.

You must be consistent with your physical therapy program, as consistency is key in seeing results and ensuring you recover in a timely manner, so try to always make it to your appointments and avoid rescheduling whenever possible.


Drink Enough Water
During the day your muscles release metabolic waste that your circulatory system is in charge of removing. When your physical therapist works your muscles in a session, they work out the tension and stiffness in your muscles. While this is obviously a good thing, it also gets your fluids flowing through your body smoothly again.

Drinking enough water after your physical therapy sessions is crucial to ensure that your body can successfully eliminate all those toxins from your bloodstream and keep your body in its best health.

Ice and Heat Application
After a session of physical therapy, you may want to apply ice or heat to the area. You’re likely to have inflammation in the area of concern, and both ice and heat can stimulate blood flow which in turn will help decrease swelling. After a session, apply either ice or heat to the area for about 20 minutes at a time, and then remove it. You can repeat this process more than once if you’d like.


Do Your Exercises
Within your physical therapy sessions, your therapist will give you home exercises they suggest you do on your own time. It’s crucial to the process of your body’s recovery to always complete these exercises on your own time. These exercises can help ease any pain you may feel between appointments and can eventually reduce the need for ongoing treatment.

Listen to your Physical Therapist’s Advice
If your physical therapist gives you certain advice, you must follow it. Your therapist is trained to know how to heal the body, and after working with you and seeing your condition they’ll know what will work and what won’t.

For example, if you’re seeking out physical therapy for neck pain your therapist may advise you to sleep with a certain pillow. Simply taking their advice and making a small change in your life can actually have a huge positive impact on your overall health.


Physical therapy programs can be super beneficial to your health and overall wellness.

If you’re interested in beginning the journey yourself, you’ll definitely want to work with someone who gives you the attention you deserve. At SoCal Elite Physical Therapy all your sessions are one-on-one with the provider themselves, not an assistant or aide.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment and get your body back on the right, and comfortable, track.

Published on March 28, 2022

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