If you ask any of my patients, my friends and especially my wife and kids,
they will all tell you I am a talker. I love to go through a diagnosis
with a patient and make a game plan of how to attack the problem. So for
me it becomes quite awkward, that pregnant pause in the conversation when
I say, “So let’s get you in some therapy,” and all of
a sudden I hear crickets. My patient is staring at me blankly, and then
the inevitable response rolls from his or her lips, “Do I have to
go to PT?”
The short answer is, yes. When physical therapy is prescribed by your provider,
there are multiple reasons to go and many benefits to be gained by going
to PT, including avoiding additional surgery and prescription medicines,
active participation in recovery and improved mobility.
Avoid surgery and prescription medicines
Yes, therapy can get you better. Many common orthopaedic injuries from
lumbar strains and ankle sprains, tennis elbow and shoulder adhesive capsulitis
to rotator cuff tears and even osteoarthritis can benefit from PT. By
working in concert with a therapist, a treatment plan can be made with
realistic goals and expectations over the course of a few weeks to months.
This plan typically transitions to a home exercise program to maintain
those goals and prevent a recurrence of the problem.
Participate in recovery
We surgeons all want the best outcome for our patients. However, many patients
believe that after surgery, such as a rotator cuff repair or a total knee
replacement, everything will get better given a certain amount of time.
Unfortunately, that is false. The benefit of therapy after surgery is
having a therapist who understands the healing process. The therapist
will push the patient through the phases of healing so that they may return
to their activities of daily living.
Improve mobility and motion
This last point is important because it encompasses the entire spectrum
of physical therapy. In the older patient population, a therapist can
aid in increasing flexibility and strength around joints. This will lead
to increased mobility and a better lifestyle; daily exercise is beneficial
for cardiac health, maintaining strong bones and a healthy weight. In
my younger population of avid athletes and weekend warriors, therapy can
actually help to prevent overuse injuries which may require surgery. This
is achieved by focusing on proper joint mechanics, extremity and core
strengthening, and flexibility.
I understand it can be hard to find time in everyone’s busy schedule
to get to therapy, but the benefits of going to therapy outweigh the time
waiting to see if a problem gets better on its own.