Six reasons to make physical therapy your first line of defense for pain
When it comes to managing pain, consider physical therapy as your first line of defense, rather than waiting until the pain has significantly interfered with your quality of life.
Here are six reasons to consider physical therapy first, before you try pain pills or injections:
- Physical therapists look beyond the symptoms and try to find the cause of pain. Where you FEEL pain is not always the source of the pain. When you see a physical therapist for the first time, they spend an hour with you performing an evaluation, which includes discussing your medical history, assessing your posture, mobility, strength, and functional limitations. The physical therapist will then create a plan of care to meet your goals.
- Physical therapists have the luxury of spending more time with patients than physicians traditionally can. PT evaluations and treatments are 60-minute appointments and depending on patient needs, they may see patients for follow up as often as 2 times per week or as infrequently as once per month. Most traditional doctor appointments only last 15 minutes, which doesn’t allow as much time or focus to identify the true cause of pain.
- You build a rapport with your physical therapist. Having more time to spend with them means that they get to learn more about you, how your body moves, and what your needs and goals are. Retraining your body how to move properly takes time, and you get that with your physical therapist. They can help to progress your healing and pain management techniques in a way that matches your physical needs as well as your learning style.
- Pain pills don’t fix problems, they only mask the pain signals and therefore are not a solution to a problem. There are times when pain pills are needed, but in most instances, they should not be the first resort when trying to rid yourself of pain.
- Injections can help manage pain symptoms, reduce inflammation, or provide valuable diagnostic information. Prior to any injection, however, conservative measures such as physical therapy can be helpful in reducing or eliminating pain and improving function. If something in your body is irritated due to a muscular imbalance, it can cause inflammation elsewhere. Therefore, treating the inflammation might be a piece of the puzzle, but not the complete solution to the problem. Once you eliminate the cause (in this case, a muscular weakness), the inflammation can naturally resolve. While you might need injections to improve your progress, your PT can refer you to another specialist if they think you need additional treatment from a physician.
Did you know in Washington State, you have direct access to physical therapy services? That makes it even easier to use physical therapy as your first line of defense!
- Direct access means you don’t have to have a physician referral or prescription for physical therapy to be seen by a physical therapist. That means you can call or schedule online whenever you need to see a PT! If you’re using insurance for coverage, it’s always best to contact your insurance company directly to verify your benefits prior to your appointment.
When you start with physical therapy as your first line of defense, you can be on the road to recovery much sooner
There are always exceptions. One of your physical therapists’ responsibilities is to refer you to other medical professionals if conservative treatment doesn’t seem to be working. You might need further testing, whether that be blood work or imaging that is determined by your physician.
It is important that your medical team works collaboratively to meet your needs. Here at MoveMend, we cultivate positive relationships with other medical professionals. If you ever need a referral to another professional, we will communicate directly with your physician to inform them of your status, progress, and challenges. We take pride in providing our patients with the best care possible.
If you are not sure if physical therapy is appropriate for you, feel free to schedule a FREE 30-minute screen with a physical therapist. If physical therapy is appropriate for you, you can schedule with the same PT you did the screen with. This can expedite your evaluation and get you going on your road to recovery.