It’s the beginning of a new year when many of us take stock of our physical health and resolve to improve it. That can mean a return to the gym or a simple increase our physical activity. While these efforts are generally thought of as a good thing, what many people may not know is that the additional stress they are putting on their muscles and joints may be doing more harm than good.
Your physical therapist can help.
If you’re puzzled about this last statement, you’re not alone. Many of our patients and clients don’t realize that the value of physical therapy extends beyond recovery from that last surgery or injury. Furthermore, very few of them know that they can make an appointment to see a physical therapist whenever they want, even if they weren’t referred by a doctor.
Here are eight reasons why you should do just that:
1. There’s no excuse for living with pain. You know that annoying back or shoulder pain, the one that doesn’t seem worth seeing a doctor about but that has been nagging you for the last six months? You don’t have to endure that. We can help you determine what’s causing the problem, and then help you fix it. According to the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) physical therapy is one of the preferred treatments of choice for chronic pain.
2. California is a Direct Access state. That means you can be evaluated and treated by a licensed physical therapist without first obtaining a physician’s referral. In fact, you can receive evaluation and treatment services for a period of up to 45 calendar days or 12 visits (whichever occurs first). This is ideal for starting off a wellness program. Insurance coverage for your physical therapy benefits are plan-specific. Most insurance companies do not require a referral from your physician, but some do. Medicare does not pay for direct access physical therapy at this time, but physical therapists can perform an evaluation under direct access. (See a future article on this site for more information on Direct Access in California. You can also find more information here: http://www.apta.org/StateIssues/DirectAccess/FAQs/)
3. It’s often easier and less expensive to see a physical therapist first for treatment of pain. You can also rest easy in the knowledge that we partner with physicians, rather than competing with them. That means, if we see an issue that is beyond our scope to fix, we’ll suggest you see another medical provider.
4. A physical therapist can help with your Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (also known as TMD or TMJ) and, yes, that Vertigo you’ve been suffering from as well. There is a wide variety of other disorders that physical therapists can help manage including urinary incontinence, post-concussion, pain associated with fibromyalgia, weakness due to chronic fatigue and symptoms from osteoporosis to name a few. Read here for more symptoms treated by Physical Therapists: http://physicaltherapyweb.com/conditions-injuries-diseases-treated-physical-therapists/
5. A physical therapist can tell you why your work station is causing pain in your back and neck or causing carpal tunnel syndrome, and then give you exercises and advice to fix the problem before it gets any worse. They can can help you strengthen muscles, and potentially prevent or delay orthopaedic problems that will slow you down as you age.
6. A physical therapist can tell you how your movement in your circuit training, weight training or CrossFit training program is making your shoulder hurt, or why your marathon training is making your knee hurt, and ultimately help you get back to the activities you love. What’s more, your physical therapist can help you avoid injury and perhaps even improve your performance with an initial evaluation and suggestions for appropriate movement patterns with pre-activity warm ups or exercises.
7. Physical Therapists are highly educated licensed healthcare professionals. In the U.S. more than 96% of entry level Physical Therapy degrees are now at the doctorate level (100% will be at the doctorate level by 2020). And all Physical Therapists must pass a national board exam and state law exam to obtain their license to treat patients.
8. Your Physical Therapist will teach you to play the most important role in your own recovery. Patients that see physical therapists learn habits and exercises that they can follow to remain active and pain-free for most of their lives. You will likely receive instruction for a home exercise program. Physical therapy is about patient-centered care which means that through coordination with your Physical Therapist you will learn the best exercises specific to your needs and which movements to avoid.
Protecting your joints and muscles, and eliminating chronic pain starts with a simple evaluation. Call us today to make an appointment to see one of our physical therapy team members and remember 2016 as the year you got fit and made the pain go away!