Physical therapy can help you reduce pain, improve or restore mobility, stay active, and prevent future re-injury. But many who could benefit from it never seriously explore it as an option.
What keeps people from seeking physical therapy?
They think they need a referral to see a physical therapist. Some states have restrictions about the treatment a physical therapist can provide without a physician referral. But no state requires a physician referral for you to get an evaluation.
They’re afraid physical therapy will be painful. Some parts of physical therapy may be a little uncomfortable while you are doing them, especially for certain conditions like surgery on a major joint. But therapists pay close attention to patients’ pain threshold and generally stop an activity if it starts to get painful. And by strengthening injured areas and increasing mobility, therapy can prevent worse long-term pain in the future. Be sure to accurately describe your pain to your physical therapist; because that’s necessary for them to make the right adjustments to your treatment.
They think physical therapy is only for injuries and accidents. While physical therapy can be helpful or even essential for patients who have recently had an injury or surgery, it can also be highly effective for long-term pain management, and provide early detection of other potential problems before they become serious and debilitating.
They worry insurance won’t cover it. Most health insurance covers some form of physical therapy. In fact, it’s actually in insurance companies’ financial interest to cover physical therapy, since it has been shown to reduce costs by helping people avoid unnecessary imaging scans, surgery, or prescription drugs, and by reducing further injuries or addressing conditions before they become serious.
They think surgery is their only option. While some things do require surgery, there are a number of conditions that can be treated by therapy, like fractures, sprains, tendonitis, bursitis, and others. For some of these conditions, therapy may be more effective and safer. Ask your doctor if you’re not sure, but don’t be surprised if physical therapy is the better choice.
They figure they can do it all on their own. Maybe you’re thinking “it’s just stretching and light exercises, I can do that at home!” You can do exercises yourself, and licensed physical therapists will often assign patients some exercises to do at home, but they do so much more than that. Only a trained physical therapist will have the expertise to know exactly what is needed to help you find improvement, to know what other treatments to use if one treatment fails or is too painful, and walk with you the whole way. On our own, most of us would not know when it was safe to exercise an injured area, how much it was safe to lift, etc.; and trying to figure it out from books or the internet would mean not getting a fully individualized treatment plan to help you recover quickly and thoroughly.
Learn more about how physical therapy can help you, or call Haymarket Physical Therapy today 703 753 0261 to set up a free consultation.