Why Should I Go To Physical Therapy?

What Exactly Does a Physical Therapist Do?

A physical therapist (PT) is a licensed healthcare professional who works to guide you through injury recovery and prevention. PTs also work with patients to regain physical function following surgery or recover strength lost from various medical procedures such as Total Knee Replacements, ACL Reconstructions, or Rotator Cuff Surgery. PTs receive rigorous training in anatomy and functional health that is applicable all across the medical field. You will find PTs who work to correct posture, improve workplace ergonomics, and even help patients recover after giving birth. 

Physical therapists can address areas including:

Image of a physical therapist working with a patient using a red resistance band and a blue ballPhysical therapists help with range of motion

Can a Physical Therapist Diagnose You?

A physical therapist CAN diagnose you with a physical therapy diagnosis.  A physical therapy diagnosis is based on movement assessment and disorders.  This is different from a medical diagnosis which is provided by a physician. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), PT sessions will consist of 3 components: 

  • Assessment/ examination
  • Diagnosis
  • Implementation of a treatment plan. Your PT will collaborate with other members of your health care team to formulate an individualized treatment plan, whether that be focusing on reducing pain, regaining mobility, restoring daily function, or improving strength.

Read this article on Four Reasons Why Physical Therapy is Important.

Can I Go to Physical Therapy Without Seeing a Doctor?

The quick answer to this question is yes.  JOI Rehab can see you in the State of Florida for 30 days without having a prescription from a physician.  To learn more about this, please go to Direct Access to Physical Therapy.

Does Physical Therapy Hurt?

A common misconception about PT is that it will make your existing pain or discomfort worse. That is not true! A physical therapy treatment session should never cross the line of being painful. This is not to say that you will not feel discomfort. PT sessions may include therapeutic stretching and strengthening activities that are designed to regain motion while remaining within a pain-free zone. Unfortunately, these movements may result in feeling some soreness following a session. Still, you can be assured that these symptoms are a normal part of recovery and that your PT has your safety in mind and should NEVER push you to work through the pain.

How Do I Know if Physical Therapy is Working?

The goal of physical therapy is to restore the prior level of function and to optimize the human movement system. Based on your individual goals, your therapist will use a multitude of factors to determine your improvement and determine when you have reached your level of maximum improvement. 

Remember that you’re an essential part of this process! PTs listen to patient-based feedback such as survey questionnaires throughout their time together to gauge your perception of your progress and highlight the difficulty of functional activities to help show improvement. Evidence-based, objective measures are another way your PT and you will determine your progress. This includes a range of motion measurements, strength, and flexibility. As you work with your PT, these values should be routinely assessed to gauge your progress.

Throughout the rehabilitation process, your PT will challenge you to progressively return to functional movements like:

Being able to perform these specific tasks without pain or compensations at different difficulty levels will help you, and your therapist determines your ability to safely return to work, sports, or even your favorite activity. When you combine these three ways of assessing your progress, your physical therapist can complete a more comprehensive view of your overall improvement and help you better determine when therapy is no longer needed.

What Happens if Physical Therapy Doesn’t Work?

As you navigate your way through the rehabilitative process, your PT will routinely reassess your progress. If they feel as though your progress is beginning to plateau, they will communicate with you and your medical team to discuss a different approach or strategy to treatment. These different strategies could include occupational therapy, massage therapy, injections, and can even include surgery when necessary.

Either way, a physical therapist will be able to guide you in the right direction and put you in the best position to succeed and make a full recovery.

Steve Borkowski, PT, MPT, MTC

If you have an injury that you would like to have a Physical Therapist look at, you can make an appointment at one of our 12 JOI Physical Therapy Rehab centers.  Call 904-858-7045 or click below to make an appointment today.

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