When I meet someone new and say I am a physical therapist they often ask "can you help with (insert body part here) pain?" Often the answer is yes. Physical therapy is the profession encompassing exercise, pain relief, movement training, work conditioning, pre- and post- surgical programs, household activity training and more! I understand the confusion!
So, what exactly does a physical therapist do?
A Doctor of Physical Therapy is trained to: evaluate musculoskeletal complaints, direct physical activity in the ICU as well as for the high level athlete and address function after diagnoses of stroke, heart attack, Parkinsons and more.
When should I see a physical therapist?
5. A trip or fall -
Whether a sports ankle sprain, stepping off a curb funny, or falling on the ice, this is a great time to see a PT. You don't have to go to the doctor first and discomforts typically resolve quickly. Even if you didn't have a major injury, your body remembers the compensation pattern and can hold muscle spasms for longer than 2 weeks.
4. Going on vacation -
If you plan to travel get tuned up first! Many times the vacation mentality has us wanting to see and do it all. It can be a big increase in the amount of walking, swimming and lifting. Plus, the postures we have to maintain for extended periods of time can create havoc in our bodies. Further, a PT can help establish a program to strengthen your body and increase endurance in preparation for big travel plans.
3. Pain when playing with kids -
We shouldn't lose the ability to imagine and play as we age. If you have pain getting to the floor, lifting, or squatting to play with children you would benefit from seeing a PT.
2. As my body gets tighter I can do fewer activities -
PT is about function. If you are missing the strength or range of motion to complete a task check in with your PT. For example - back pain and stiffness can come from restrictions in the hip, knee, shoulder and ribs. A physical therapist can determine which pattern is causing your pain and guide you through the process of feeling and functioning better.
1. It's been 2 weeks and the pain isn't better -
If an injury is going to heal itself without help, you will feel better within 2 weeks. If pain continues or increases then it's time to call for an appointment.