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When planning your physical therapy session, many factors will affect the treatment provided, the session’s duration, and the overall program. Individual sessions can last between 40 to 60 minutes. Many factors, like the patient’s condition and goals, determine how long the physical therapy program may last. The complexity of the treatment plan, the type of physical therapy being administered, and the patient’s response and progress all play significant roles that ultimately impact the duration of the program. Therapists will continually assess the patient’s needs and adjust each session to ensure the patient recovers best. Typically, overall program durations last between 6 to 8 weeks. The nature of the injury or condition, treatment goals, patient compliance, insurance coverage, and periodic reevaluation are all factors that determine how long the physical therapy program is. Similar to the individual session times, the length of the program is guided by the therapist’s ongoing assessment of the patient’s evolving needs and progress. 


How Long Is a First Physical Therapy Session 

Your first physical therapy session will typically take 20 minutes longer than a regular session, resulting in the session, which puts the total time of the physical therapy session at 60 to 80 minutes. The first session is typically longer because the therapist conducts an initial examination to learn more about your condition. The initial examination includes a detailed review of your medical history, encompassing current symptoms, past injuries, surgeries, medications, and relevant medical conditions. Following this, there is a discussion about your specific symptoms and goals for physical therapy. A thorough physical examination is then conducted, encompassing assessments of range of motion, strength, flexibility, balance, posture, and other pertinent factors. After learning more information, the therapist will craft a treatment plan specific to your needs. The plan will consist of goals, exercises, and a timeline showing all the steps you will take throughout your physical therapy journey. We suggest writing a list of how your injury or condition disrupts your everyday life, and any other information you would like to provide that will help the physical therapist develop a plan for you. 


What Does Physical Therapy Consist Of

When attending physical therapy, you can expect a personalized approach to your specific injuries and conditions. The initial session often involves an assessment where the physical therapist gathers information about your medical history, current condition, and goals for rehabilitation. This assessment gives the therapist insight on how to develop a customized treatment plan. A typical treatment plan-depending on the injury-focuses on improving strength, flexibility, balance, and overall functional mobility. The exercises are designed to target specific areas of concern and enhance your ability to perform daily activities with greater ease. Common exercises may include stretches, strength training exercises, balance drills, and functional movements that mimic real-life activities. Therapists will often ask you questions to create a treatment plan tailored to your personal needs. The questions might include information about your medical history, current symptoms, daily activities, previous physical therapy experiences, and medications. Make sure to gather this information prior to your first appointment.


  What Should I Do After A Physical Therapy Session  

The work you do after your physical therapy sessions is just as important as the work you do during your sessions. To stay consistent, your therapist will give you home-based exercises that are crucial to follow for full recovery. Rest, recovery, staying well-hydrated, and maintaining a balanced diet allow the body time to recuperate and benefit from the session and contribute to the body’s healing process. For any post-session discomfort, applying ice or heat is recommended. Pacing oneself and modifying daily activities according to the therapist’s recommendations are vital for preventing overexertion and supporting the progress achieved in therapy. During this time, you should continue to stay in communication with your therapist in case any issues arise. Following the completion of a physical therapy program, you should maintain a consistent exercise routine to sustain the gains made. Gradual reintroduction of daily activities, regular follow-up sessions, and implementing lifestyle changes recommended by the therapist contribute to sustained well-being. 


Types of Physical Therapy Programs  

The primary reasons people seek physical therapy include pain management, mobility improvement, surgery avoidance, sports injury recovery, and fall prevention. Although these are the most common, there are multiple reasons people need physical therapy. Typical programs last between 6 to 8 weeks however it varies depending on the type and severity of the condition being treated. Some individuals may require only a few sessions for acute issues. Other patients with chronic conditions or complex rehabilitation needs may engage in longer-term programs spanning several weeks or months. The frequency of sessions, whether they occur weekly or more frequently, is often determined collaboratively between the patient and the physical therapist based on the treatment goals and progress. You will engage in multiple exercises that will not only be used during sessions but outside sessions as well. 



Ankles are an important weight-bearing joint that allows you to run, jump, and move quickly. This motion mobility contributes to the ankle being vulnerable to any risk of injury. Physical therapy for ankle pain involves a targeted approach to address discomfort, injuries, or conditions affecting the ankle joint. The duration of an appointment for ankles can vary but, typically, lasts around 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the specific needs of the individual. During these sessions, patients can expect a comprehensive assessment of their ankle issues, including an evaluation of their range of motion, strength, flexibility, and any contributing factors to the pain. In ankle-focused physical therapy, they will do a combination of therapeutic exercises designed to strengthen the muscles supporting the ankle, improve flexibility, and enhance overall stability. Manual therapy techniques, such as joint mobilizations or soft tissue manipulation, are used to alleviate pain and enhance joint function. Ice or heat therapy is often incorporated to manage inflammation and promote healing.


Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common injury that people experience across the country. Similar to any injury, when seeking physical therapy for lower back pain, the process typically begins with a thorough assessment by a physical therapist. The duration of physical therapy for lower back pain can vary based on the specific condition, the severity of the pain, and individual response to treatment. A course of physical therapy for lower back pain may involve a series of sessions scheduled over several weeks. The frequency of sessions, typically ranging from one to three times per week, is determined collaboratively between the patient and the physical therapist. During physical therapy for lower back pain, individuals can expect a combination of exercises aimed at addressing muscle imbalances, improving flexibility, and enhancing core strength. Therapeutic exercises targeting the lower back and surrounding muscles play a central role in the treatment plan. 


Knee or Knee Replacement

Physical therapy programs for knee issues, including those related to knee replacement, are structured to address the specific needs of individuals experiencing pain, limited mobility, or recovering from surgical procedures. After an initial assessment where the therapist will evaluate the range of motion, strength, and stability of the affected knee, they will also identify any compensatory movements or muscle imbalances. Exercises may focus on strengthening the muscles around the knee, improving flexibility, and enhancing overall joint stability. Similar to the other injuries, the duration of programs for knee issues and knee replacement can range from 4 to 8 weeks. 


ACL Surgery

Physical therapy following Anterior Cruciate Ligament surgery is often challenging and requires a longer time for rehabilitation and recovery. Recovering from ACL surgery involves not only restoring strength and flexibility but also addressing proprioception, balance, and functional movements to ensure a safe return to normal activities and sports. The severity of recovery from an ACL surgery varies from person to person based on their initial pain and discomfort, limited range of motion, and muscle atrophy. The duration of programs for recovery from ACL surgery can vary based on the type of surgical procedure, individual progress, and the specific goals of the patient. These programs typically extend over several months, ranging from three to six months or longer. The intensity and frequency of physical therapy sessions are often higher in the initial stages and gradually decrease as the individual gains strength and stability.