Dr. Konrad Sekula, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT
When you’ve had an injury or chronic pain, you know that it’s important to allow your body time and space to heal. Your orthopedic physician or PA may refer you to physical therapy or you may go directly on your own. Physical therapy is a key component of the healing process for many people. Though being patient through the therapy process and being diligent about sticking to a therapy plan may at times feel challenging, it pays off in the long run when it comes to recovery.
Here are seven reasons why you should always make sure you go to your planned physical therapy sessions:
- Physical therapy provides a full exam, evaluation and testing. Your physical therapist (PT) will perform an evaluation that includes assessment of medical history and how long you have had your symptoms. Through this evaluation they can select the necessary tests and measures to identify existing and potential movement-related disorders. The therapist can then develop a diagnostic hypothesis to identify and characterize signs, symptoms and movement dysfunctions, or in other words, determine what the cause of the orthopedic issue is and develop a plan of care.
- Your plan of care will be designed specifically around you. Physical therapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan, even for same injuries. Your PT will choose the correct plan of care for you based on their understanding of etiology, history, and conclusions drawn from tests and measures – in other words, your activity level, age and other considerations compared with your symptoms.
- PTs can often identify dysfunction better than imaging tests can. You might be surprised to know that through a quality PT examination, your orthopedic physical therapist can frequently provide a more comprehensive picture of dysfunction and underlying diagnosis than can MRIs, radiographs, X-rays and other imaging.
- Physical therapy is based on therapeutic exercises that promote healing. Therapeutic exercises enable patients to enhance activities and participation, reduce risk of injury, optimize health and enhance fitness and overall well-being. The span of therapeutic exercises that may be incorporated into your plan could include aerobic training, endurance conditioning, body mechanics, movement pattern work, muscle lengthening, coordination exercises, range of motion therapy, neuromuscular education or re-education, and more.
- Your PT is trained, certified and licensed. Physical therapists are trained to properly prescribe and implement therapeutic exercises based on diagnoses, and will minimize risk and optimizing safety during your sessions. PTs are also trained in manual therapy, which allows a hands-on approach to move joints and soft tissue to decrease pain and increase healing. Examples of manual therapy include manual lymphatic drainage, Graston technique or muscle scraping, massage, manual traction, range of motion, mobilization and manipulation.
- Physical therapists are a great source of education. PTs are a highly informative resource for patients who want to better understand their injury and how to heal it and prevent it from recurring. Working closely with a PT even for one session can provide you with encouragement to improve lifestyle habits, reorganize your office space for ergonomic purposes, reduce fear of the therapy process, and even discover better products such as pillows, orthotics, foam rollers and braces. It is the job of your PT to communicate effectively with you and establish a healing environment.
- Physical therapy has value. Physical therapy is often the best way to fix an orthopedic issue permanently. It is conservative and safer treatment yet is frequently underutilized. If you invest the time into and commit to the physical therapy process, it can mean a lifetime change with lasting results.
Konrad Sekula, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT is a physical therapist with OrthoCarolina Monroe.
October is National Physical Therapy Month