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Physical Therapy Overview


For more information on careers in this field, see the list on the right. For salary ranges, schooling requirements and more, check out the Career Explorer.

Physical therapy is a dynamic and evidence-based profession that helps to improve or restore mobility, relieve pain and reduce the need for surgery and prescription drugs. Physical therapy professionals diagnose and treat individuals of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.

Physical therapy also prevents the loss of mobility before it occurs through fitness and wellness-oriented programs that result in healthier and more active lifestyles.  

Physical therapy is provided in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes.

Physical therapy treatments may include:

  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Functional training
  • Deep soft tissue massage
  • Physical modalities such as electrotherapy and ultrasound

The terms "physical therapy" and "physiotherapy," and the terms "physical therapist" and "physiotherapist," are synonymous.

Learn More About Physical Therapy