Would you trust an AC repair man to fix your car?...Your plumber to work on an electrical issue in your house? Right, neither would I. In an age where you can find just about anything on the internet, from general knowledge to do-it-your self, where do we draw the line and make a good choice about how to get the work done? More importantly, when it comes to our personal health and well being, which health care practitioner can you trust to take the most comprehensive approach in working with you to help you resolve your pain?
I have had clients who try to work on treating their own pain by doing exercises they found on the internet or trying a new pain relieving modality that was "only $29.99" + shipping and handling…and if you call in now, you get two for the same price :)” In all seriousness, I don't wish to down play attempting to do your own research and being proactive when it comes to taking care of your body. In fact I am in favor of it. I try to fix things around my house using simple methods I research online. That being said, I am not opposed to people trying some preliminary efforts to reduce pain and improve function. There are times, however, when I realize what I am trying to do may be either too dangerous or too complicated, given that it isn't my area of expertise. That's when it is time to call in the professionals. Sure, it may seem more expensive, but when you consider your safety and the time and 'error' involved if you were to do it yourself, perhaps the money is well-spent. The main point here is if your pain or soreness persists beyond one week of trying things on your own, there is a good chance you are not treating the affected tissue(s) that are causing your pain. The body is complex. If you are wanting to get out of pain and prevent re-injury, then some more critical steps beyond ice, heat or basic exercise may be necessary.
If you have tried it on your own and are not getting any better, it is likely time to see a qualified manual physical therapist skilled in diagnosing the problem and giving you a road map for a speedy recovery. Which brings us back to the the latter of the earlier questions. I asked: which practitioner should you choose to help you? Consider these three points before making your decision:
1) What does the first physical therapy appointment look like? Is there an examination?
There should always be a thorough musculoskeletal examination before diagnosis and treatment ensues. After all, that’s why you are there, to find out what exactly is going on and how you can get better faster.
2) How much time will I spend with the Doctor of Physical Therapy?
You should always have ample time with the Doctor of Physical Therapy. I recommend no less than 45 minutes for each session. This should include a combination of both hands on manual treatment and carefully guided exercise and treatment approaches to get the best results in the shortest amount of time.
3) How long will I need to see the Practitioner?
The simple answer is as long as is necessary. But if we go a little further, this is a great question for the practitioner. Hopefully they have spent the time with you, explaining what they feel the problem is and how best to treat it. Given that information, they can help you understand how many visits are necessary and what exactly you should be doing on your own between visits to help resolve the problem faster. Remember, if they have more individual time to work on you during each session, it’s easier to monitor your pain and treat the underlying cause more effectively. My patient’s average between 4-6 sessions or less. You need a skilled practitioner that is dedicated to being thorough with you.