Examples Of Passive Physical Therapy

Adult woman during rehabilitation in physiotherapist's office

If you’re struggling with joint, back, or neck pain, or have been trying to recover from the aftermath of an injury to any joint- including the shoulder and knee, your doctor might recommend a passive physical therapy treatment. Passive means that you, the recipient, don’t have to actively participate in the procedure.

Here’s a list of what you should expect:

Ice or heat therapy

In this form of therapy, cold or ice packs are applied to the affected area to assist in reducing the pain and swelling. On the other hand, the heat packs can be used to boost the blood flow to the affected areas and other parts of the body to loosen any stiff muscles. In some cases, you’ll find both cold and heat therapies being alternated depending on your injury or preference.

Massage therapy

As you may already know, a massage can assist relax and loosen the muscles, something that often works well in reducing pain and stiffness. For instance, when a therapist is treating neck pain, they may find it important to massage the back of the neck along with the surrounding areas, such as the shoulders, back, and parts around the back of the head.


In this case, a therapist applies a cold gel to the swollen or painful area and then uses a device to rub against the skin gently as it sends special soundwaves into the tissues. You may find this procedure giving you some warm sensations that reduce pain and relaxes the muscles.


This form of therapy uses a special device to relay mild electrical current through special wires to the affected areas. We have different forms of electrotherapy that are used for different purposes, like stimulating muscle contractions, shifting pain signals, sending pain relief medication through the skin, and boosting tissue healing. The most common form of electrotherapy that you can expect is known as TENS or Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. TENS works by sending electric pulses to the nerves located below the skin; the aim is to change the pain sensations into more tolerable sensations.

Passive range of motion

This form of therapy is often confused with an “active range of motion.” If someone physically moves or stretches a section of your body, like your leg or arm, we refer to that as the passive range of motion therapy. Active range of motion refers to actively moving the body part in question by contracting your muscles.

A physical therapist or a special machine can assist take care of your joint injury by increasing the range of motion of the joint and affected ligaments. The aim is to take you back to your pre-injury baseline. It’s important to note that a professional has to measure the level of movement in the affected body part to see whether there is indeed a limited range of motion before proceeding with the therapy.

There are more examples of passive physical therapy but these five stand as the most popularly used, and the most effective.

Comments are closed.