Physical therapy is a growing profession with the purpose of restoring mobility and function to the body. Physical Therapists (PTs) have a wide range of abilities from diagnosing, treating, preventing, and managing health conditions. With the addition of direct access to physical therapy, it has become easier than ever to see a PT. This allows a patient to seek treatment from a therapist without a prescription from a doctor. Your therapist can diagnose your problem and design an individualized plan of care with the purpose of reducing your pain, restoring your mobility, correcting dysfunction, and preventing re-injury. So when is the right time to go to physical therapy?
1. When you are having pain, it may be time to seek physical therapy
We have all dealt with pain at some point in our lives. It may have been a knock to your leg, a nagging pain in your back, or an ache in your shoulder that just won't go away. Pain is the body's natural response to harmful stimuli, giving your brain a warning sign that something may be wrong. The intensity and type of pain vary from person to person, but that could be a good indicator that you need some therapy. Try to recall a specific injury or determine if your pain bothers you more during specific tasks or all day long. This will give your therapist an idea about how to best treat you. Having the ability to describe how the pain feels (achy, sharp, constant, intermittent) will provide the therapist with valuable information.
2. When you notice difficulty with Activities of Daily Living (ADL's):
ADL's include the necessary normal everyday activities you perform for self-care. The activities include bathing, dressing, cooking, eating, and performing transitional tasks. Think about sitting from lying, standing from sitting or getting in and out of a car. In addition, tasks related to hygiene like showering are basic activities that are essential for a person to live safely and independently. Any difficulty or change in ability in performing these tasks rather easily can indicate that you may need to seek the help of a therapist. Being able to recall specific tasks that give you difficulty will allow the clinicians to best plan your exercise program.
3. To help you avoid further injury and facilitate healing
Maybe you're thinking that your pain does not warrant a visit to your doctor, or you think it will just go away. It's important to know that even an injury that doesn't seem very serious can quickly develop into something more involved. Getting treatment early on can help get you back to being 100% in a shorter amount of time. Early treatment can also help avoid other more costly or invasive forms of treatments such as diagnostic imaging, injections, or surgery. Even if these other treatments are required down the road, the therapy will help improve your overall outcome.
4. When you want to take charge of your own well-being
As much as we enjoy seeing and treating our patients, we would prefer you not have to need us in the first place! Perhaps the most important thing a physical therapist can teach you is how to take of yourself in the long-term. During the course of your treatment, a therapist will provide advice and educate you on how to perform or modify your activity in order to avoid injury in general. When you decide it's time to head to physical therapy, you are advocating for yourself and taking charge of your health!
Ivy Rehab Network's physical therapists are here for you whenever you need us. Find a clinic near you and get in touch with us when you decide it's time to seek physical therapy.