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Physical Therapy Abbreviations: 170 Common Terms for PTs

Physical therapy abbreviations are essential to expediting charting and documentation. Here are the most common PT abbreviations to keep in your arsenal.

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Physical Therapy Abbreviations: 170 Most Common Terms for PTs

It’s no secret that physical therapy documentation and patient charting can be both tedious and time-consuming. With countless clinical and procedural terms used on a daily basis, professionals will often opt to use abbreviations and acronyms to help streamline their operational workflow.

These various terms help identify over a hundred physical therapy movements, procedures, conditions, and equipment types. If you’ve been looking for a method to better expedite the documentation processes in your clinic and have yet to consider physical therapy abbreviations, now is your time to start. Here are 170 of the most common physical therapy abbreviations.

Categories of Physical Therapy Abbreviations

There are a wide variety of abbreviation categories that are used during typical documentation and charting processes across the physical therapy space. Learning more about each of these categories helps practitioners identify which PT abbreviations and acronyms can be incorporated into the practice to not only reduce the time spent on manual tasks but also boost overall productivity.

Consider these seven categories of common physical therapy terms, along with relevant examples, to gauge which abbreviations would work best in your unique physical therapy practice.

Range of Motion

Range of motion abbreviations denote the level of joint or muscle mobility a patient currently demonstrates. These abbreviations are often accompanied by numerical measurements that are obtained via various physical therapy measurement tools, such as a goniometer, inclinometer, or posture analyzer.

Abbreviations commonly used to identify the range of motion (ROM) in a patient include active range of motion (AROM), which defines movement completed without assistance. Another frequent abbreviation is passive range of motion (PROM), to recognize movements aided by something or someone, such as a physical therapist.


With the many types of equipment used in the physical therapy space also comes a collection of equipment PT abbreviations. Physical therapy equipment encompasses a wide range of resources and tools to meet the unique treatment, assessment, movement, and exercise needs of a patient.

Common physical therapy equipment abbreviations that can be used to identify treatment tools include ultrasound (US) and electrical stimulation (ES), both of which are treatment tools used to stimulate the movement and blood circulation of muscle tissues. Likewise, equipment abbreviations can also be used to outline exercise equipment including upper body ergometers (UBE) and home exercise programs (HEP) which assist in regaining and enhancing movement throughout treatment.

Assistive Devices

Aside from physical therapy abbreviations for tools used in treatment, there are also assistive device abbreviations that are referenced to denote the equipment used by patients. As you already know, there are numerous musculoskeletal conditions and injuries that require patients to rely on the use of various assistive devices.

Due to the endless combinations of injuries and injury severities, you can expect a robust selection of assistive device abbreviations to be often used in the physical therapy space. Assistive devices that are often abbreviated can include but are not limited to quad canes (QD), straight canes (SC), and wheeled walkers (WW).


Procedure abbreviations are commonly used during physical therapy charting processes to help simplify the reading and completion of this administrative task. Medical notes on a patient chart, such as SOAP Notes, often use abbreviations and other types of shorthand acronyms to document any details necessary for patient care.

When laying out your physical therapy documentation needs, such as the development of a SOAP note, procedure abbreviations you can expect to write include three times a day (TID), date of surgery (DOS), and history of (H/o).

Diseases and Conditions

Musculoskeletal conditions and disease diagnoses can vary significantly between patients. Because of this, physical therapists use abbreviations to quickly and specifically identify what diseases and/or conditions each patient has been diagnosed with and is being treated for during documentation and charting processes.

Condition abbreviations can be used to identify not only the specific concern PTs are dealing with but also to help identify what may have induced this condition in the patient. For instance, abbreviations like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are used to identify the treated condition while motor vehicle accident (MVA) or total hip arthroplasty (THA) are used to identify the cause for treatment.


Patient movements are some of the most common physical therapy terms to be abbreviated across the industry. Much of the physical therapy treatment process includes the use and documentation of various movement types for either treatment or assessment purposes.

For example, horizontal abduction (Horiz ABD) can be used to identify the movement of the arms away from the body’s midline, while the external rotation (ER) abbreviation is used to identify the outwards rotating movement of a patient's shoulder or hip. Flexion (FLEX) is also a popular movement abbreviation used to note the bending of a joint, such as the elbow, knee, or wrist.


As with the many different diseases and conditions a physical therapist must document, there are also numerous physical therapy abbreviations that are used for the identification of the accompanying treatments. The use of treatment abbreviations provide a detailed look into the patient's episode of care and can be helpful for long-term documentation needs.

Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE) is an acronym at the top of the physical therapy abbreviation list for documenting treatment recommendations. Such an acronym predominantly appears across individual patient charts and at-home care instructions for patients.

Physical Therapy Abbreviations for Clinical Use

There are dozens of PT abbreviations for clinical use. Below are the most common 170 terms; but bear in mind, this is not a definitive physical therapy abbreviation list. If your practice is home to physical therapy specialties, such as a Neurology Clinical Specialist (NCS) or a Pediatric Clinical Specialist (PCS), your team may utilize additional abbreviations for maximum efficiency.


  1. Δ – Change (as in ‘delta’)
  2. @ – At


  1. ā – Before
  2. AAROM – Active Assistive Range of Motion
  3. ABD – Abduction
  4. ACJ – Acromioclavicular Joint
  5. ACL – Anterior Cruciate Ligament
  6. AD – Assistive Device
  7. ADD – Adduction
  8. ADL – Activities of Daily Living
  9. AET - Advanced Exercise Therapist
  10. AFO – Ankle Foot Orthosis
  11. AKA – Above Knee Amputation
  12. AMA – Against Medical Advice
  13. Amb – Ambulation
  14. AROM – Active Range Of Motion


  1. B – Bilateral
  2. BID – Twice a Day
  3. BKA – Below Knee Amputation
  4. B/L – Bilateral
  5. BMI – Body Mass Index
  6. BOS – Base of Support
  7. BPM – Beats Per Minute


  1. c – With
  2. cerv – Cervical
  3. CF – Cystic Fibrosis
  4. CGA – Contact Guard Assist
  5. CKC – Closed Kinetic Chain
  6. C/o – Complains Of
  7. CNS – Central Nervous System
  8. COPD – Congestive Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  9. CP – Cold Pack, Cerebral Palsy
  10. CPM – Continuous Passive Motion
  11. C/S – Cervical Spine
  12. CTr – Costo-Transverse
  13. CTx – Cervical Traction
  14. CV – Costo-Vertebral


  1. DB – Dumbbell
  2. D/C – Discharge
  3. DDD – Degenerative Disc Disease
  4. DF – Dorsiflexion
  5. DF – Dorsiflexion (of the ankle)
  6. DIP – Distal Interphalangeal Joint
  7. DJD – Degenerative Joint Disease
  8. DOB – Date of Birth
  9. DOI – Date of Injury
  10. DOS – Date of surgery
  11. DVT – Deep Vein Thrombosis
  12. Dx – Diagnosis


  1. ER – External Rotation
  2. Estim or ES – Electrical Stimulation
  3. ESWT – Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy
  4. EV – Eversion (of the ankle)
  5. Ex – Exercise
  6. EXT – Extension


  1. FIM score – Functional Independence Level
  2. FLEX – Flexion
  3. FWB – Full Weight Bearing
  4. Fx – Fracture


  1. GHJ – Glenohumeral Joint


  1. H/o – History of
  2. HEP – Home Exercise Program
  3. Horiz ABD – Horizontal Abduction
  4. Horiz ADD – Horizontal Adduction
  5. HP – Hot Packs
  6. HVGS – High Voltage Galvanic Stimulation
  7. Hx – History


  1. I – Independent
  2. IFC – Interferential Current
  3. INF – Inflammation
  4. Inv – Inversion
  5. Ionto – Iontophoresis
  6. IR – Internal Rotation
  7. ITB – Iliotibial Band
  8. ITBS – Iliotibial Band Syndrome
  9. IV – Inversion (of the ankle)


  1. KAFO – Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis


  1. LAQ – Long Arc Quad
  2. LCL – Lateral Collateral Ligament
  3. LE – Lower Extremity
  4. LOA – Level of Assist
  5. LP – Leg Press
  6. LPT – Licensed Physical Therapist
  7. LTG – Long-Term Goals


  1. MC – Metacarpal
  2. MCL – Medial Collateral Ligament
  3. MCP – Metacarpophalangeal
  4. MDT – Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy
  5. MFR – Myofascial Release
  6. MHP – Moist Hot Pack
  7. Mm – Muscle
  8. MMT – Manual Muscle Test
  9. Mobs – Mobilization
  10. MSK – Musculoskeletal
  11. MT – Metatarsal
  12. MT – Manual Therapy
  13. mTBI – Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
  14. MVA – Motor Vehicle Accident
  15. MWM – Mobilization With Movement


  1. NDT – Neuro-Developmental Technique (Bobath Technique)
  2. NMES – Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation
  3. NWB – Non-Weight Bearing
  4. NSAIDS – Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs


  1. OCS – Orthopedic Certified Specialist
  2. OKC – Open Kinetic Chain
  3. OOB – Out Of Bed
  4. OT – Occupational Therapist/Therapy


  1. p – After
  2. PCL – Posterior Cruciate Ligament
  3. PCS – Pediatric Certified Specialist
  4. PF – Plantar Flexion
  5. PFS – Patellofemoral Syndrome
  6. Phono – Phonophoresis
  7. PMHx – Past Medical History
  8. PNF – Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation
  9. PRO – Pronation
  10. PROM – Passive Range of Motion
  11. PIP – Proximal Interphalangeal Joint
  12. PT – Physical Therapist
  13. Pt. – Patient
  14. PTA – Physical Therapy Assistant/Physical Therapist Assistant
  15. PUW – Pick Up Walker
  16. PWB – Partial Weight Bearing


  1. Q – Every
  2. QC – Quad Cane
  3. QD – Every Day
  4. QID – Four Times A Day


  1. RA – Rheumatoid Arthritis
  2. RC – Rotator Cuff
  3. RD – Radial Deviation
  4. RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
  5. ROM – Range of Motion
  6. Rot – Rotation
  7. RPT –  Registered Physical Therapist
  8. RW – Rolling Walker
  9. Rx – Treatment


  1. S – Without (Sans)
  2. SAQ – Short Arc Quad
  3. SB – Side Bending
  4. SBA – Stand-By Assist
  5. SC – Straight Cane
  6. SLR – Straight Leg Raise
  7. SOB – Shortness of Breath
  8. STM – Soft Tissue Mobilization
  9. SUP – Supination


  1. TB – Theraband
  2. TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury
  3. TENS – Transcutaneous Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation
  4. TFL – Tensor Fascia Latae
  5. THA – Total Hip Arthroplasty
  6. Ther Ex – Therapeutic Exercise
  7. TID – Three Times a Day
  8. TKA – Total Knee Arthroplasty
  9. TKR – Total Knee Replacement
  10. TLSO – Thoracic Lumbar Sacral Orthosis
  11. TM – Treadmill
  12. Trxn – Traction
  13. TTWB – Toe Touch Weight Bearing
  14. Tx – Treatment


  1. UBE – Upper Body Ergometer
  2. UD – Ulnar Deviation
  3. UE – Upper Extremity
  4. US – UltraSound


  1. w/ – With
  2. WBAT – Weight Bearing As Tolerated
  3. WC – Wheelchair
  4. WCS – Women’s Certified Specialist
  5. WFL – Within Functional Limits
  6. WNL – Within Normal Limits
  7. WW – Wheeled Walker

Source: Physical Therapy Web.

The Bottom Line: Expedite Documentation and Optimize Your Clinic

Every physical therapist should have a robust physical therapy abbreviation list (like this one!) in their toolkit to remain up-to-date with shorthand physical therapy terms and streamline documentation and charting processes.

Incorporate an all-in-one physical therapy EMR solution into your daily operations to further enhance and organize your documentation and charting tasks. MWTherapy offers fast documentation via customizable templates and forms built by therapists for therapists. To learn more about how MWTherapy can enhance your documentation processes, schedule a free live demo.

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