By: Dr James Gamrat, PT, DPT
So you’ve been referred to physical therapy but don’t know what to expect. Here are 5 tidbits of information to help you understand more about physical therapy and your upcoming visit.
1. “No Pain No Gain” Does Not Apply
Contrary to popular belief, Physical Therapy, “PT” does not also stand for “Pain and Torture”. For the majority of patients who are referred to physical therapy, our goal as a physical therapist is to alleviate your pain, which should not cause ADDITIONAL pain when you are at physical therapy. Part of a physical therapist job is to help the individual receiving treatment differentiate between “pain” and “soreness”. PT may make the individual experience temporary soreness. Through multiple treatment sessions, pain and soreness will gradually decrease leading to improvements in performance of muscles, available motion, strength, and to decrease difficulty with everyday tasks.
2. “Location of Pain Does Not Mean Origin of Pain”
Through your evaluation, your physical therapist will identify the cause of your pain and not just the location of your pain. The human body can perceive three specific types of pain: localized pain, referred pain and radicular pain. Localized pain is “local” or close to the area of injury. However, referred and radicular pain cause the individual to experience pain and discomfort in a different area of the body. Your physical therapist will be able to tell you based on several tests, on how you move and through the exam if your pain is the direct cause of your injury or as a result of referred pain from a muscle or radicular pain from a nerve.
3. “Quality is Better than Quantity of Movement”
When your body is in pain, your body will adapt to find a new way to move to avoid pain. This may be good in the short term but long term, body compensation can place an increase in forces through different joints in your body which are not designed to take these new demands. This can lead to break down of cartilage in addition to overloading of muscles & tendons which are not well at absorbing force. Despite removing pain, your body may still retain and remember this new compensating movement pattern. If this is not corrected, compensation can lead to secondary areas of pain as a result. To correct these compensations, your therapist will identify these compensations, and help improve your quality of movement so you can do the quantity of daily tasks pain free away from the clinic.
4. “You Never Finish Physical Therapy”
Typically most therapy sessions can last between forty five minutes to an hour depending on what treatment you are receiving. If your frequency of treatment is three times a week, this can average between 2-3 hours out of 112 awake hours per week to correct your injury (based on 8 hour sleep schedule). Your therapist may give you two or three important exercises or techniques to continue with at home to help in between therapy sessions. To improve movements learned at physical therapy, one must practice and incorporate these concepts through everyday life.The more time implemented outside of therapy, it will reinforce the correct movement compared to the old painful way. Even after your last therapy treatment, successful therapy is lifelong integration of new habits, exercises and movement patterns that will keep you healthy and pain free for years to come.
5. “Each Physical Therapist is Different”
Just like in any profession, each physical therapist is different. Some of my patients that I evaluate say “I have been to another physical therapy clinic before and my other therapist told me that I failed”. In my opinion, the other therapist is the one who has failed that patient. I end up finding that there could have been multiple different physical therapy techniques that could have been added whether it be joint mobilizations, myofascial stretching, cupping, Class IV laser or instrument assisted tissue mobilization. If appropriate, to optimize and expedite recovery collaborative treatment such as chiropractic or acupuncture treatments with physical therapy can assist in speeding up recovery.
If you still have additional questions regarding physical therapy you can call any one of our offices to schedule your appointment today.
Montvale:(201) – 746 – 6577
Closter:(201) – 784 – 2700
Oradell:(201) – 254 – 7240