Physical Therapy as a ‘First Step’
Physical Therapy has long been thought of as a “second step” in the medical world in that many people believe: “I go to my MD and then see a physical therapist after they tell me what is wrong or I get surgery.” However, more and more people are realizing the benefits of seeing a physical therapist as one of their first steps! Most people see their dentist or their MD for regular check-ups to make sure everything is working correctly, why not do the same with your physical therapist? Here are just a few of the best reasons to see your PT today!
- No MD referral necessary – In Iowa, physical therapy is granted direct access, which means you do not need to see another provider before seeing your physical therapist. Some insurance companies request pre-authorization or need a MD to sign off on plan of care, but this can all be addressed at your first visit at no inconvenience to you.
- Physical therapists can be the experts in the treatment of many conditions. Physical therapists are now graduating with a doctoral degree in which they are educated on not only treating the conditions that fall within our scope of practice, but in differentiating the conditions that will require referral to another provider. Now if you have something like GI issues for example, we do recommend you see your primary care provider or appropriate specialist as that is not our area of expertise!
- We treat more than just joints and muscles. PTs work in many settings and can specialize in treating a variety of conditions. At Flex some of the things we are able to help you with beyond the “usual” are: vertigo and balance issues, headaches, pediatric disorders such as torticollis, and the list goes on!
- Beyond treating injuries and rehabilitating patients following an operation, we can help to prevent injury. A physical therapist can assess your strengths, weaknesses, and movement patterns to determine if you are at risk of an injury and give you the knowledge and tools needed to avoid it altogether. For example, Flex offers an ACL injury prevention program called Sportsmetrics which has been studied and proven to be effective at reducing the incidence of ACL tears in athletes.
- If you already have a condition that you are concerned about, physical therapy can help you to avoid surgery in some cases. A recent study* showed non-operative treatment through physical therapy was effective for rehabilitating a full-thickness rotator cuff tear in approximately 75% of patients followed up for 2 years. This is just one example. A great deal of research has been done that shows conservative management of many conditions has equal if not better results than surgical intervention. These conditions range from herniated discs in the spine to arthritis in the knees. *J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2013 Oct;22(10):1371-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2013.01.026. Epub 2013 Mar 27
- Physical therapists can not only help you with pain, injury, and weakness, they are also well versed in other areas of health including nutrition. For example, at Flex we offer a diet program called Ideal Protein that has shown to be very effective at helping people lose weight and maintain a healthy diet.
- In PT we try and give you the tools you need to stay healthy and not need to come back for the same issue. Ideally, if you keep up with your home program and monitor whatever condition we treated in therapy, it will not return and cause you problems in the future. However, if it does recur, we want you have the knowledge and skills needed to treat it yourself.
- For years physical therapy has had the perception that all we do is exercise. Now more than ever we are incorporating revolutionary treatments such as specialized massage techniques, cold laser therapy, and other quick acting interventions to get you better faster. Yes, exercise may still be a part of your program, but that has also changed in that we attempt to use high quality functional movements rather than the traditional, a.k.a. “boring,” ones many people are used to.
- Seeing your physical therapist can save you time. For many of the reasons listed above, going to your PT first can be the fastest and most efficient way to meet your goals. Rather than seeing your primary care provider, being referred to an orthopedic MD, undergoing extensive testing, and then finally being referred to physical therapy; you can just come straight to us. Or maybe we can even prevent you from getting injured or needing surgery in the first place, therefore avoiding a long rehabilitation.
- It’s easy to see that if PT can help with all of these things, it can be helpful in saving you money as well. There’s a reason insurance companies often require you attend a set number of PT visits before getting an MRI or surgical procedure. It’s usually because physical therapy is relatively inexpensive and can sometimes solve the problem without needing those more expensive procedures.
Hopefully at least some of this information can help make your decisions about what to do for your health needs in the future. If you have questions or are interested in getting in for a physical therapy visit, call Flex Physical Therapy at 712-256-1800.