Your physical therapist has a lot of advice, but because their main focus is on your well-being, they might not have an opportunity to share it with you. Here are a few things they wish you knew. With this information in mind, you can take an active role in your health and well-being and experience the benefits of physical therapy.
1. You don't need a referral. All 50 states – plus D.C. and the Virgin Islands – offer direct access to a physical therapist without a physician referral. This saves you both time and money, if there is a co-pay.
2. Every plan is different. While you may be able to research plans online or hear about what worked for a friend, a physical therapist will be able to tailor an appropriate plan based on your specific needs and circumstances. It’s important to communicate openly with your physical therapist about your goals and limitations so that they can create a plan that is right for you.
3. Your participation is key. While your physical therapist will provide you with guidance and support, it’s up to you to follow through with the recommended exercises and stretches. This includes completing at-home programs and keeping communication lines open with your physical therapist so they can continue helping you and adjusting your plan if necessary. By actively participating in your treatment, you can maximize your results and speed up the recovery process.
4. Recovery takes time. Rome wasn’t built overnight and unfortunately your pain won’t go away after two to three visits. Soft tissue takes an average of six weeks to heal, and some injuries or conditions may require even more time. While your physical therapist will monitor your progress to ensure that you are pain-free as soon as possible, it’s important to be patient and commit to the process. Rushing through treatment or skipping exercises can lead to setbacks or delays in the recovery process.
5. “Motion is lotion.” One simple piece of advice from physical therapists is to remember that “motion is lotion.” Inactivity can lead to joint-related conditions, like arthritis, so everyday movement is crucial to keep joints lubricated and prevent stiffness or pain over time. This can include low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling, as well as simple stretches and movements that you can do throughout the day.
6. Don’t wait. It‘s important to seek help early rather than waiting. Many symptoms improve with earlier intervention, and starting physical therapy as soon as possible can shorten the amount of treatment time needed. This can help you get back to your normal activities more quickly and reduce the risk of long-term complications.
In summary, physical therapy can be a highly effective way to address pain, improve function, and enhance overall physical well-being. By understanding the advice and guidance of physical therapists, you can maximize your results and get the most out of your treatment plan.