Once in awhile, we all have those moments where we suffer from minor aches and pains like back pain, a pulled muscle, or a stretched tendon. While these conditions are uncomfortable to deal with, they are usually not bad enough to warrant a trip to the doctor. However, we’re usually left wondering: Do we stay at home and treat the injury ourselves or go and see a doctor?
Thankfully there is a perfect option in these situations – a physical therapist (PT).
Physical therapists are university trained health professionals that assist people with muscle injuries, pain, weakness, and other movement problems. They are experts in diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation and also specialize in areas of sports medicine and fitness. There are many reasons to see a physical therapist, and here are the top 5.
1- Physical therapists treat a lot more than you think
Physical therapists treat a wide variety of conditions, from your typical ankle sprain to post-surgical ACL repair. Here are some of the most common reasons people see a PT:
- Neck pain
- Knee or hip replacement/injury
- Shoulder dislocation or separation
- Lower and upper back pain and stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Motor vehicle accident related injuries
This is not an exhaustive list of all the conditions that PTs deal. If you are in doubt about your problem, be sure to call a local PT to see what kind of treatment options they might be able to provide.
Many doctors are restricted to 15-20 minute sessions with each patient. In contrast, physical therapists are able to spend more 1-on-1 time with their clients. A typical consultation can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. In that period of time, your PT can
- discuss your case with you in detail,
- guide you through some exercises (that you can also do at home), and
- recommend various treatment options.
The amount of time you are able to spend with a PT can make a big difference to the understanding of your illness or injury. It means that in the long run, you are less likely to make multiple return visits.
3- Chronic pain
Chronic pain is a medical condition that is notoriously difficult to treat. Many people look for long term, natural remedies that do not involve being on pain killers for long stretches of time. This is where physical therapy may come in handy. The causes and treatment of chronic pain are still poorly understood, but many patients have found physical therapy to be a great alternative.
4- Sporting injuries
A PT should be one of your first points of contact for everyday sporting injuries like
- shin splints, or
- foot problems.
As long as the injury does not require immediate medical attention, then PTs are a great resource to use. Their knowledge of the bones, muscles, and joints is unparalleled and in many cases, they have a better understanding of body kinetics than doctors. There is also a good chance that even if you do visit a doctor they will likely recommend you see a PT as well.
5- Treatment of long-term problems
If you have sustained a long term injury from a motor vehicle accident, undergone knee surgery, or need any long term rehabilitation, then a PT is a must. Any serious joint or muscle damage will always require a long term healthcare response which usually includes a PT component.
PTs are an underused resource. Most people do not know about all the great services they offer and the wide number of injuries they treat. Keep PT in mind when minor, non-urgent accidents happen.