Physical Therapy FAQs

Get Answers To The Most Commonly Asked Questions About Physical Therapy

How is physical therapy used in the nonsurgical treatment of back and neck pain?

Your doctor has a number of options available in the treatment of spinal pain, prior to the final option of surgery. These include medications, injections, and physical therapy. Basically, there are three primary reasons to use PT.

Pain: Pain will cause spasms in the muscles surrounding the area. These spasms create additional pain and stress, which perpetuate the original pain in a cycle of events that must be broken. To break this “pain-spasm cycle” physical agents such as heat, cold, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound, are used. Once the cycle has been interrupted, more active therapy can be implemented. Pain reduction is an important component of physical therapy.

Loss of mobility: The underlying cause of the original pain can vary. Our physical therapists identify the tissue causing the restricted motion and “mobilize” (stretch) the tissues involved. Our therapists also teach patients how to mobilize themselves at home as well.

Loss of strength: Many back and neck problems have weakness in specific muscle groups as an underlying factor. These muscles must be addressed in order to gain normal movement and support to the region, as well as preventing future problems from occurring. For example, 50% of the support for the lumbar spine comes by way of the abdominal muscles. Lack of strength reduces this support and increases the risk for injury.

Muscle strength may also be lost in the arms or legs as a result of nerve root compression at the spine. After the nerve root compression is addressed, strength must be restored to the muscles involved. Again, your therapist works with you developing an exercise program tailored to your specific needs.

How do the therapists at PROMOTION PHYSICAL THERAPY work with my surgeon at Black Hills Neurosurgery & Spine?

Our therapists have worked in conjunction with your surgeon to design post-operative rehabilitation guidelines. If you are from out of town, our therapists forward these guidelines to the therapist within your area, and we are available to answer any specific questions your therapist may have when interpreting these guidelines. If you spend a night at the hospital, our therapists assess your mobility needs and begin some light post-operative exercises and education right away!

What is the difference between physical therapy and chiropractic treatment?

While physical therapy and chiropractic offer many of the same treatment tools, such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, etc., their approach to mobilizing your spine can be different. Our therapists use mobilization techniques, specifically selecting the segment of the spine to move. Physical therapy regularly incorporates muscle re-education, strengthening, and stretching exercises as a way to maintain the mobility achieved through the manual treatment. Chiropractic and physical therapy can compliment each other in the treatment of spinal problems.

Why is it important to undergo therapy after spinal surgery?

Following surgery, pain, loss of motion, and strength may all be factors in preventing you from reaching the activity level you need to attain for work or recreation. Pain prior to surgery will result in loss of motion and strength of the structures around the spine (even though you may not notice it). Mobility and strength must be addressed after surgery, to prevent additional problems from developing. You may be up to 4 times more likely of developing a second disc problem if you have had surgery. Teaching you how to care for your back is also an important factor in reducing your chances of another surgery.

Do I need a prescription from my doctor in order to see a PT at PROMOTION PHYSICAL THERAPY?

While the state of South Dakota permits a patient to be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist, some insurance company policies may require a physician’s prescription in order to cover physical therapy. Please refer to your specific policy or call the number on your insurance card for details of your PT coverage.

How do I know when it is safe to return to work after an injury or after surgery?

After the pain has been reduced, your therapist will proceed with an exercise program tailored to meet your specific needs. Your goals for therapy will be developed depending on the type of activities you are going to return to. Sometimes, a work conditioning program will be implemented which bridges the gap between what your current abilities are and what you must be able to do when you return to work. These activities simulate the movements and forces required at work, but progress them gradually. Then, when you return to work you are less likely to injured. A functional capacity evaluation is often used to determine specifically what your capabilities and limitations are for performing work. We use the Physical Work Performance Evaluation (PWPE), a 4-hour test simulating all of the work activities from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. This test is the only test available with built in validity measures and has been peer reviewed.

Does insurance cover physical therapy services?

Most insurance companies cover physical therapy. However, in this era of managed care, coverage usually has limitations. You can find out what these limitations are by referring to your policy or by contacting your insurance company. We have staff available to assist you in determining what insurance restrictions may apply.  We will track your visits allowed by your insurance company and let you know your remaining therapy sessions. 

What is Postural restoration?

When pain or instability or particular overuse patterns are present in the body – the body will fall into faulty patterns and compensate or try to find stability by using incorrect muscle groups. This may involve areas that we do not directly relate to our pain regions. Postural restoration looks at the body as a whole to determine areas that are overused and what patterns a person has developed (both consciously and unconsciously). Patients are then taught how to shut off these patterns/muscle groups. They are then taught how to turn ON appropriate muscles to give them correct stability to correct the abnormal patterns, posture, and muscle imbalances that have development to allow the joints and muscles to work in a more effective and efficient manner.



Have More Questions That Aren’t Answered Here?

We understand that you may still have more questions about physical therapy that may not be answered here, so please feel free to Contact Us with all of your physical therapy questions.


ProMotion Physical Therapy
4141 Fifth Street
Rapid City, SD, 57701

ProMotion Physical Therapy
Baken Park
741 Mountain View Road, Suite A-2
Rapid City, SD 57702

tel: (605)399-9565
fax: (605)399-9584

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Official PT Providers

ProMotion Physical Therapy is the Official Sports Physical Therapy Providers for the Rapid City Rush Hockey Team and the Black Hills Rapids Soccer Club.

a division of Neursurgical & Spinal Surgery Associates, P.C.
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