Alright.. I know I have written about this topic before, but I had a recent frustrating phone conversation with my mother and realized I need to continue preaching this concept. My mom recently hurt her knee while she was walking. When talking about her condition over the phone, I recommended she go to see a physical therapist in her area. She said and I quote “…I think I just need to go get an X-ray and maybe an MRI. Besides the PT won’t be able to prescribe pain medication or anything”. I am pretty sure if I could have seen myself in the mirror, my face would have been beat red and possibly smoke coming out of my ears. If the mother of a physical therapist doesn’t know the benefits of getting PT first, then I am not doing my job educating the public properly.
Although she was correct in that physical therapists are not permitted to prescribe pain medication, there are many other ways pain can be alleviated. Soft tissue mobilization, cupping, dry needling, heat or ice, stretching, other modalities and even instruction on ways to move properly can all help decrease pain levels without disrupting the entire body system. Going straight to images takes time and money. A physical therapist has special tests which are used to tease out any serious injury. It is possible that further imaging may be needed which will be discussed during a PT initial evaluation. The good news is the rehab process has already started. You can get pain relief and learn techniques to begin strengthening and stretching while waiting to see your primary care physician or to receive further imaging. Even if surgery ends up being the best course of action, you are now stronger and in a better place to recovery with greater ease.
Luckily, I was able to convince my mom to go see a PT and her primary physician was so glad this was route she wanted to take. She was amazed that she came out of the first therapy appointment basically pain free! For future injuries, please consider seeing a physical therapist first as this is a conservative and cost effective way to begin the recovery process. GET PT 1st!
Dr. Jen Berwanger PT, DPT
P.S.: If you feel like you aren’t sure about physical therapy, but want to know about what it can offer- click the orange button below. This will put you in contact with us – we will get you in for a free 1/2 evaluation to give you insight into what PT can or can’t do for what you have going on!