Whether you are an athlete or an artist, a stay-at-home Mom or an Olympic hopeful, sustaining an injury that requires rehabilitation is not only physically painful but also emotionally fraught. It is frustrating when you’ve been sidelined and unable to engage in your normal activities. Moreover, it can be hard to ask for help, even when you desperately need it to accomplish the day-to-day details of your life.
Want to know the single most important action you can take to regain your previous strength, stamina, and overall fitness? It’s simple: physiotherapy. By seeking treatment from an experienced PT, you will set yourself up for recovery success. Let’s take a look at the questions to ask a provider before scheduling your first PT appointment.
First Things First: What Benefits Does PT Provide?
Many people think that a physiotherapist is just a glorified personal trainer. That’s simply not the case! It’s true that there is some overlap, but only physiotherapists are qualified — and certified — to diagnose your problem and develop a strategy for getting you back in fighting shape.
By choosing to work with a physiotherapist rather than with a trainer, or just going it alone, you could see some or all of these benefits:
- Pain management
- Injury prevention
- Improved mobility
- Better balance
- Maximum range of motion
- The ability to avoid or put off surgery
In addition, physiotherapists can be a boon to people who have (or are at risk of developing) lung disease, heart conditions, vascular issues, and diabetes-related complications.
Questions To Ask Before You Begin Physiotherapy
You will likely be working with your physiotherapist for a while — several months, if not longer. It’s important to be comfortable with your choice of a clinic and/or provider. To that end, jot down a list of questions you have, including the ones below, to ask before you sign on for a treatment plan.
1. What Exactly Will We Do During Sessions?
The majority of the treatment will likely comprise exercises. Some use your own body weight, while others require equipment or props. Some, such as squats or hamstring stretches, may be familiar to you; you will probably learn some new ones, as well. In addition, your therapist might perform soft-tissue massage and hands-on manipulation of the joints or limbs.
Other therapies like hydrotherapy, dry needling, electrical stimulation, lasers, or ultrasounds are also common. Be sure to ask about what modalities will be most helpful and appropriate during your treatment period. That way you have an idea of what’s in store for you.
2. How Long Will It Take?
This is one of the most common questions patients ask, and with good reason. Knowing that you have an end date, even if it’s not set in stone, can give you peace of mind as well as a goal to work toward. It can also help you budget if you’re on the hook for payments or co-payments.
Understand that your PT probably won’t give you a definitive answer. So much depends on your motivation, level of participation, and how your body responds to the various therapies. However, they ought to be able to provide a ballpark answer.
3. How Long Does a Session Last?
Most of the appointments you’ll have will be between 30 and 60 minutes. In some cases, sessions might last for 90 minutes. As to how often you will see your therapist, it could be daily, several times a week, once a week, or twice a month. As you make progress toward your goals, the appointments’ frequency and/or length will start to dwindle.
4. What Is My Time Commitment Between Sessions?
Think you left homework behind when you graduated high school? Not so fast! Your therapist can only do so much in an hour. They will show you a number of exercises to perform, but you’ll be expected to practice at home, on your own.
They may steer you to resources online or provide hard copies of informational material that you can refer to as you do the exercises. It’s in your best interest to complete your homework; giving it short shrift will only delay your recovery.
5. Is It Going to Hurt?
One of the primary goals of physiotherapy is to relieve current pain and prevent future pain. While the techniques used by a PT probably won’t be excruciatingly painful, you might nevertheless feel some discomfort. This is particularly true when a therapist performs deep-tissue massage, myofascial release, or other types of bodywork.
Any PT worth his or her salt will let you know ahead of time if there’s the chance that a treatment will be uncomfortable or slightly painful.
Don’t grin and bear it; let your PT know if what they are doing hurts you. This could be an indication of another, related problem. Or it could just mean that their current approach is too intense or aggressive.
6. What Else Can I Do To Get Better?
Physiotherapists love it when their patients are proactive and invested in their own recovery and overall well-being! Chances are they will be happy to discuss other steps you can take to treat your injury or issue in a holistic fashion. Additionally, they can often refer you to qualified nutritionists or practitioners of modalities such as chiropractic care. Some physiotherapy clinics have chiropractors or other professionals on staff — and some chiropractors have physiotherapists on staff!
Use caution when integrating several types of treatment into your recovery plan. Always clear these approaches with your primary care physician, the doctor who urged you to try PT, and the physiotherapist themselves.
7. What If It Doesn’t Work?
If you work with a qualified, experienced therapist, and if you put your utmost effort into doing the exercises and cooperating, there’s a high likelihood that you will see at least some progress after a course of physiotherapy. However, there are some injuries, illnesses, or other conditions that just require different treatment. So a good provider will also know when to cut bait and advise you to try another tack.
Are You Ready to Learn More?
We hope that these questions have helped give you guidance. Make sure to ask them, and any others you might have when you consult with a physiotherapy provider to discuss the possibility of becoming a patient.
You can always contact The Spine Center to schedule a consultation, whether you are interested in PT or another of the many services we provide. We’d love to talk to you!