Four Questions that New Patients Ask
How Long Will It Take To Get Better?
Since every injury or source of pain is different, this is probably the most difficult one to answer. Everyone’s body is different, and the extent of the damage can vary greatly, so there is no ‘one answer fits all’ for this one. That being said, there are some key considerations that will help your doctor provide a reasonable assessment estimated recovery timeline. These include, but are not limited to— the severity of the injury, how long you’ve had the pain, how consistent you will be with regular sessions and doing your “homework”. Some change is usually seen within the first few sessions. As we said before, no 2 patients are the same so their results will also vary, but generally, patients experience significant improvement in about a month’s time from physical therapy.
Definitely not. Physical therapy is beneficial for many beyond just recovery from an injury or post-surgery. A trained and skilled Physical Therapist can evaluate and treat individuals for existing musculoskeletal conditions and actually identify —then treat—potential problems before they have any negative impact on a person’s daily activity. Physical therapists are movement specialists, so if a person is experiencing reduced ability to do activities or perform certain tasks they used to do, then physical therapy is a great option to restore comfortable movement. Physical Therapy can often help someone avoid surgery, or in cases where surgery is really necessary, there are things a Physical Therapist can do with a person prior to the surgery to help them strengthen the body and proactively prepare for ways to compensate when the surgery is done and the patient is beginning their recovery.
Does Physical Therapy Hurt?
True, many new patients beginning physical therapy are already in pain. However, the famous saying “no pain, no gain” is certainly not the mantra of your physical therapist. There may also be a fine line between the pain from the injury, mild pain or discomfort when performing some new exercises, and soreness after the sessions.
There’s also good pain and bad pain. Bad pain can be dangerous and should not be felt during treatments. Good pain—the pain that is a natural outcome of pushing the body to a new level—is expected and not dangerous.
Any type of serious pain felt when working with a properly trained Physical Therapist will be monitored and based on what the findings are, new exercises or modalities will be utilized to help the patient find a comfortable way to work the area without causing further pain or worse, causing injury.
The bottom line is that working with a skilled Physical Therapist is hard work, and presents plenty of challenge for even those patients who are in great physical shape. So, count on some challenge and some discomfort, if the pain is beyond that, tell your PT immediately so adjustments can be made.
Can I Get Better With Rest and Meds Instead?
Chicken soup and bed rest are tried and true roads to recovery for the common cold or flu. Taking a few NSAIDs will take the edge off and provide temporary relief, along with some restored mobility, to the source of pain. However, a musculoskeletal injury does require a more comprehensive recovery plan beyond soup and sleep.
Many people who experience chronic pain or suffered a recent injury are under the impression that rest is the best way to heal. What they don’t realize is extended time remaining immobile and ‘resting’ the injured area of the body can actually cause muscle stiffness, loss of flexibility and normal range of motion—all of which could lead to delayed recovery or worse, further injury to the body. This is why varied types of appropriate movement therapy are recommended when it comes to injury recovery.