Written by: Dr. Amanda Spalding, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT
So you’ve been referred to physical therapy. Now what? You’ve heard the gamut of stories ranging from wildly successful to absolute horror. You probably have lots of questions and concerns. Is it right for me? What are they actually going to be able to do for me? Am I wasting my time? I’m here to correct a few of the big myths of PT!
Myth 1: “My brother/cousin/mama/friend/coworker said you were going to hurt me.”
This is one of the most common statements I hear on evaluation day. We’ve all heard the nicknames given to PTs: “Pain and Torture,” “Physical Terrorists,” “queen/king of pain.” With commentary like that, of course you will be a little nervous.
Admittedly, physical therapy isn’t always fun. We make you move and work in ways you probably haven’t in a while. We exercise muscles you didn’t know existed. We find those tender spots and work on them. But, for the vast number of patients, it shouldn’t be painful. Our goal is always for you to feel better when you leave than when you came in.
Myth 2: “They can’t tell if I do my exercises or not.”
False. We absolutely can tell. The home exercise program (HEP) given is supposed to help maintain your progress between sessions and manage your symptoms while away. Your therapist can tell if you have maintained progress or regressed based on our objective findings such as your range of motion, strength, ability to sufficiently activate certain muscles, and how the tissues feel.
Myth 3: “The exercises I’m given don’t do anything for me.”
The exercises given are picked specifically for you based on the findings of your evaluation and your limitations. Our goal of your home exercise program is for the exercises to complement the treatments to allow us to then progress further each visit. By maintaining the progress we make in one visit, we are able to continue to address the remaining deficits in future visits.
Myth 4: “I need to have x-rays or an MRI to see what’s going on.”
As a whole, we do not need these to treat you. On your first visit, we do a thorough evaluation to determine current problems and rule in or out more serious problems that may require additional medical intervention or testing. Our goal is not to diagnose a specific condition (rotator cuff tear, labrum tear, disc herniation, etc) but to determine whether physical therapy is appropriate for you. Studies have shown that going directly to physical therapy prior to an orthopedic consultation with imaging has improved outcomes and a decreased cost to the patient and healthcare system. Don’t worry, we aren’t keeping you if we aren’t the ones that will help you!
Myth 5: “Physical therapy visits are just going to consist of performing the same exercises at the clinic that I do at home. I might not even see my therapist.”
Unfortunately, there are many clinics where this is an accurate statement. However, we do things differently at Nesin Physical Therapy! We are a manual-based clinic meaning that we use hands-on techniques and clinical reasoning to determine the underlying cause of your condition. Our goal is to address the true problem, not just address the symptoms. We treat patients one-on-one, just you and the therapist, for all appointment sessions, allowing us to focus all our time on you and your condition. A typical session at Nesin includes hands-on/manual treatment and then techniques to help you create new habits and movement patterns we have just established. Exercises are given to allow you to maintain this progress until you return for your next visit.
Myth 6: “I thought physical therapy was only for after surgery.”
Physical therapy is so much more than just post-operative care! Physical therapists are movement dysfunction experts, meaning that we can address movement problems at any point in your life. PT can be beneficial for pain after a specific injury but also for those nagging aches and pains that just won’t go away. Patients with general deconditioning and balance deficits can come for retraining to help improve overall function and prevent falls. Additionally, Nesin Therapy specializes in women’s health including pelvic pain, peri/post-natal pain, incontinence, painful intercourse, endometriosis, and tailbone/coccyx pain. And yes, we also treat men’s pelvic health. Feel free to call and speak with one of our Patient Care Coordinators or therapists to determine if PT can be beneficial for you!
Hopefully this was able to ease concerns and answer some of your questions about what physical therapists really do. The best way to determine if physical therapy is right for you is to have an evaluation. In Alabama, you can come to physical therapy without a physician’s referral for your first visit. Let us help you on your road to recovery!