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Do I Need PT?

This week I was talking with a gentleman who was facing his second total hip replacement. He asked my opinion on physical therapy after such a surgery. “My doctor says I don’t need physical therapy, and that all I have to do to get better is walk,” he said. “But I want to get the best results I can from all this.”

I will never tell anyone to go against the advice of their doctor, but I do like to educate people on what physical therapy is, who it’s for, and when it’s appropriate.

Physical therapy is a recovery enhancement. Sometimes it is needed, such as after many types of knee surgeries (without a professional guiding your recovery, you will never regain full range of motion in the joint, and your knee may end up worse off than it was before surgery). For certain other injuries, you can probably do okay rehabbing at home on your own. The questions you need to ask yourself are:

1) What is the severity of my injury/condition?
2) Do I have the knowledge to successfully rehabilitate myself at home?
3) What kind of results am I looking for?

Injury severity is a big component in whether or not physical therapy is needed. Mild conditions (such as a low-grade ankle sprain) can often be treated quite successfully at home with the correct application of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). But as conditions get more severe (for example, chronic overuse syndromes, reoccurring back pain, or any injury which doesn’t improve within seven days), the odds of achieving a successful at-home rehabilitation become less and less.

The internet provides a wealth of information on injury treatment, but you have to be able to sort the good from the bad. Then once you find the good information, you have to know the correct application. Not everything can be learned simply from reading it. If your condition is not serious, you can visit a physical therapist to be taught at-home care, but some treatments are simply too complicated for that. You also have to weigh whether you have the proper equipment to successfully treat yourself.

Have you ever tried an at-home duplication of a dish from your favorite restaurant and gotten mixed results? Or do you time your visits to your favorite coffeehouse based on when your preferred barista is working (because no one else knows how to make your latte “just so”)? The same applies to physical therapy. Yes, you can get by with managing many injuries and conditions at home, but what kind of outcome are you looking for? Do you want to simply get by with passable results? Or do you truly want the most you can get from your treatment? An experienced physical therapist will be able to take you further down your road to recovery than you will be able to take yourself.

So do you need physical therapy? Ask yourself the above questions or call 463-0022 to schedule your FREE Assessment. If you don’t need us, we’ll let you know. As for the gentleman facing the hip replacement? He opted for a physical therapy-enhanced recovery. Keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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