Dr. Debbie Mitchell, PT, DPT, MPT, CGS

Debbie is a Physical Therapist at Red Rock Physical Therapy and Wellness.

When Should I Go to Physical Therapy

If you are having issues with your ability to move, limitations or injuries that are keeping you from playing sports or working out, need modifications to your exercise routine to meet your individual situation, or have pain that is keeping you from the life you love, Physical Therapy care is what you may need to help get your health back on track.

Physical Therapy is not just for people after a hospitalization or surgery. Many people may benefit from a physical therapist to improve recovery time from all kinds of injuries. Therapy is used to promote a person’s mobility, reduce pain, restore function, prevent surgery and disability. Physical Therapists have many treatment techniques and tools to achieve goals set for each patient. Therapeutic exercise, functional training, manual therapy, neuromuscular re-education, and self care education are of some of the physical therapists treatment options that can be utilized. Physical Therapy can help acute, sub-acute, chronic health conditions and provide wellness and prevention.

According to the World Confederation for Physical Therapythe physical therapist “is concerned with identifying and maximizing quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation. This encompasses physical, psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing.”

Physical therapy can be a game changer for individuals looking to enhance sports performance, improve posture, increase body awareness for dancers, improve diaphragmatic breathing for singers, reduce fall risk, set up a ergonomic home work station and so much more.

What Happens at a Physical Therapy Exam?

Physical therapists are educated to provide an extensive examination, including health history, to explore the reasons why a physical dysfunction and symptoms are occurring for a person. Based on the findings, the therapist will educate and develop a treatment plan to help you manage the problems revealed during the exam. Physical Therapists teach you how to be mindful and listen to your body to improve your condition, avoid further injuries and reduce pain. The educational component is very important to promote the best healing environment while promoting strength, and movement while restoring your health. Therapists will also let you know when they think you should be evaluated by a physician for further medical advice, and if potentially you need imaging, such as a MRI or X-ray, to make sure a more serious injury is not present. A physical therapist may also help you select appropriate adaptive and equipment you may need.

How Do You Know if Physical Therapy is Working?

At your initial exam, physical therapy goals will be set with you to help guide your care plan. At follow up appointments, the physical therapist may guide you though exercises and activities, develop a home exercise plan, provide skilled manual therapy and continually provide you education and feedback to progress you toward achieving these goals. During physical therapy, you may also receive modalities, such as heat/ice, electric stimulation, cold laser, ultrasound, biofeedback, MPS (DC micro current with Dolphin Stim Unit) if it is indicated to help with your condition. At certain visits, a re-exam/assessment will occur to recheck progress toward goals to gage how the therapy is progressing. The therapist will also take into consideration your feedback on what is working, and will ask what needs additional help in order to restore your health and function. Some factors that indicate therapy is working include, decreasing pain, reduced symptoms, increased muscles length, improving motion and function, changes in outcome scores, improving strength and endurance.

Is Physical Therapy Really Effective?

One common goal for physical therapy is to address the patients rehab needs by teaching concepts of self treatment to help manage symptoms and to help learn how avoid future injury. Physical therapy can be utilized and may benefit many people recovering from injuries and dysfunction while achieving long-term results. Physical therapy is more than just a powerful solution to pain management, it can also be cost effective too. You may avoid costly imaging, injections, extra doctor visits, unnecessary medication and surgery if you try physical therapy first. Did you know that visits in a typical therapy care plan cost less than a typical MRI?

What Makes a Physical Therapist Different?

Physical Therapists have a doctoral level education, so make sure your “therapy” appointment is provided by a Licensed Physical Therapist. During the average 7 years of college education, a physical therapist takes course work in areas such as biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, cellular histology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, neuroscience, kinesiology,  pharmacology, pathology, behavioral sciences, cardiovascular and pulmonary, endocrine and metabolic, nutrition, imaging, and musculoskeletal studies. After completion college classes, multiple clinical assignments and a licensing exams, physical therapists continue education with course work to enhance their skill sets. They learn about specific conditions in more detail, continue to learn evidence based practice to keep up with the latest research in health care, and can specialize in certain forms of treatment or areas of expertise.

Why Should I Have Yearly Physical Therapy Physical Exam?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be injured or have surgery to see a physical therapist. Seeing your physical therapist can be a good dose of preventive medicine. Doctors of Physical therapy are great medical providers for people who are new exercisers or individuals starting to work out after a hiatus. A yearly Physical Therapy Exam can assess an individual’s current fitness level, mobility, balance and function. Then the therapist can create a personalized program, focusing on your body constraints and muscle imbalances. You are then educated on how to progress your exercise program safely using the data collected in order to prevent unnecessary injury. The program created will help target and improve any strength, endurance, flexibility and mobility deficits found. Also your therapist can better help you address any pain or discomfort as it arises in the future, prior to it becoming debilitating and keeping you from the things you love.

A good way to think about yearly Physical Therapy Exam is just like going to your doctor for blood work, the dentist to clean your teeth, or doing preventive maintenance on your car. Your body is your vessel to experience life, and you have to take care of it well to keep it moving efficiently and reduce risk of injury.

Where Should I Go to Get My Physical Therapy?

Each therapy clinic is different, and you should pick out one that meets your needs, not just what is in your insurance plan. Red Rock Physical Therapy is a small private practice in McHenry Illinois, which provides individual care to each patient in private treatment rooms. It is perfect for individuals who do not want to get therapy treatment and exercise in a large gym with many people. Physical therapy is performed by a Doctor of Physical Therapy the entire care plan; no aids, techs, athletic trainers, or support staff. This clinic doesn’t provide “cookie cutter” treatment to push more units of productivity, nor does it waste your time with repeating exercises you can do at home which saves you time and money.

Red Rock PT treats many types of injuries and conditions including: orthopedic care, pre and post surgical, sports injuries, concussion management, balance issues, vertigo/BPPV, MS, Parkinsons, yearly musculoskeletal physicals, pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, TMJ, headaches, whiplash, work injuries, back pain, joint pain, pelvic pain, and many more. We also provide a Telehealth option for your convenience for certain rehabilitation situations. If you do not see your problem listed, please call us to speak with a physical therapist to answer any questions about physical therapy services at our location. We take your health seriously at Red Rock Physical Therapy and Wellness, and you will find you are not just another number walking though our door.

This article was originally published on March 3, 2021 on Red Rock Physical Therapy and Wellness’s blog

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