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Your First Physical Therapy Appointment: What to Expect

Physical Therapy with ChildWhether you’re suffering from chronic back pain or you have sustained an injury, physical therapy can work wonders. However, you might be feeling a little nervous about your first appointment because you aren’t quite sure what to expect. You are probably wondering what will happen during your initial visit and if there is anything you should do to prepare yourself.

Physical therapy can not only help to restore your mobility and ease your pain, but it can also be wonderfully calming, improve your self-esteem, and boost your overall well-being. To help ensure you get the most out of your experience, here’s a look at some important information that will help prepare you for your first visit.

Intake Assessment

Your initial visit with a physical therapist will begin with an evaluation. During this evaluation, your therapist will go over your medical history and ask you questions about your condition. You’ll be asked if you are experiencing any pain, and if so, how severe the pain is. If you’re having issues with mobility, your therapist will want to know to what extent. A therapist will also inquire about your injury or illness, including how and when it occurred, and if your condition has worsened over time. Be sure to bring any pertinent medical records with you. The more information your therapist has, the better he or she will be able to understand your condition.

Physical Evaluation

After your PT discusses your condition with you and reviews any medical records, he or she will conduct a physical examination. Your therapist will measure the impairments that are contributing to your issue or that may be impacted by your injury or illness.

Some of the measurements that will be taken during your initial physical therapy examination will likely include:

  • Range of motion
  • Balance
  • Strength
  • Palpation

Your therapist should clearly explain each test and let you know their purpose. You should also be provided with instructions so that you know what to expect and what you should be doing.

What to Wear

You’re going to be doing a bit of moving during your first session. With that said, you want to make sure you wear comfortable clothing that’s easy for you to move in. You should also wear clothing that will allow your therapist to easily access the affected site. For example, if you are having problems with your knee, consider wearing shorts or loose-fitting pants that can easily be pulled up so the therapist can get a good look at the area. If you aren’t sure what to wear, call before your appointment and ask.

Also, keep in mind that most physical therapy clinics offer changing rooms, so if you are coming from work, you can change your clothing once you arrive.

Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You want to develop a good relationship with your physical therapist. This individual is there to help you, so he or she will gladly answer any questions that you may have. If you are feeling embarrassed about certain questions, remember that these healthcare professionals work with countless patients and have ample experience; they aren’t going to pass any judgment. Also, since you will be working with this person for a prolonged period of time (the length of time will depend on your specific condition), you want to make sure that you feel comfortable. Asking questions is one of the best ways to develop a great rapport with your therapist.

After the Examination

Once your evaluation and physical assessment have been completed, the physical therapist will have a pretty good idea of what type of treatment you will need. Depending on your case, you may begin getting to work right away. Your PT may decide to start using certain modalities, such as hot and cold therapy, massage, electrical nerve stimulation, or ultrasound. These modalities can help to manage your pain and improve the function of your muscles and joints, preparing you for your next appointment.

Conclusion of the First Appointment

What to Expect with Physical TherapyOnce your first appointment has ended, your PT will provide you with important information. You will likely receive instructions related to things that you should be doing at home, such as exercises, and what you should expect during future sessions. You will also probably be given a document that highlights important information, such as illustrations of exercises that you can start doing at home. You might also be given some equipment to take with you, or at least have recommendations for equipment that you can purchase to use at home.

Don’t forget to discuss your future appointments, including scheduling them. You want to make sure that you create a cohesive schedule and one that works for you so that you can get the most out of your therapy sessions.

Your appointment with a physical therapist is the start of your journey toward recovery. Make sure you go into it with an open mind and be ready to take advice and ask questions. Together, you and your therapist can reduce your pain, improve your mobility, and help you achieve whatever other goals you may have.

Managing Arthritis Pain with Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy for ArthritisArthritis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the joints. There are more than 100 types of arthritis that can affect any joint in the body. Two of the most common types include:

  • Osteoarthritis: A degenerative condition that progresses over time, this type of arthritis can affect any joint, but most often, it affects the hips, knees, neck, back, fingers, and toes. Years of wear and tear on the joints can cause osteoarthritis. Infections and injuries can speed up the development of the condition.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. An autoimmune disease, with this type of arthritis, the immune system views the tissues of the body as a foreign substance and attacks them. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks impact the soft tissue in the joints, which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bone.

Whatever kind of arthritis you have and no matter which part of the body is affected, one thing is certain: you are experiencing discomfort. The pain and stiffness that is associated with arthritis can be unbearable. It can limit your mobility, too. In general, this condition can be all-consuming and impact your quality of life. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for arthritis, and while medications can help, they can come with a host of side effects; not to mention the fact that you can become dependent on them.

There is a way that you can manage the pain, restore your mobility, and improve your quality of life. How? – With physical therapy.

There are various tactics that can be employed in physical therapy to manipulate the damaged joints, making them more mobile and reducing your pain.

Physical Therapy Modalities Used for Arthritis

The strategies that a physical therapist will use to treat arthritis depend on your condition and how it is affecting you. However, some of the most commonly used tactics include:

  • Exercise. A physical therapist will teach you how to do certain exercises that specifically aim to strengthen the damaged joints, thereby alleviating stiffness, reducing pain, and increasing your ability to move.
  • Massage. A therapist can massage the joints and muscles that are affected by arthritis to release tension, soothe pain and improve your range of movement. Massage is also just a great way to improve your overall well-being.
  • Heat and ice treatments. The application of heat and ice can reduce inflammation in the joints, which can help to ease pain and stiffness, making it easier to move the parts of the body that are affected by arthritis.
  • Electrical nerve stimulation. Mild pulses of electricity can be applied to the areas that are affected by this condition. This stimulation has been proven to provide temporary relief for pain.
  • Diathermy. A specific type of heat therapy, diathermy uses radio, ultrasound or microwaves to heat up the tissues located within the affected joints. This heat kills the damaged cells that are causing your pain, thus reducing the symptoms that are associated with arthritis.

Benefits of Physical Therapy for Arthritis

Physical therapy can provide a wide range of benefits for patients who suffer from arthritis. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Restore mobility. The stiffness and pain that is caused by arthritis can make it difficult to move the affected joints. Physical therapy can help to increase flexibility, improve strength, and reduce pain, which will make it easier to move the damaged joints.
  • Ease pain. As mentioned, physical therapy can help to alleviate the pain that is associated with arthritis. This will not only help to preserve the use of the affected joints, but it will also improve your quality of life.
  • Education. You’ll learn valuable information about your specific type of arthritis. In order to better manage your condition, it is important to be well-informed. A physical therapist can teach you how to properly care for your body to reduce the stiffness and pain you are experiencing. For example, you can learn about certain dietary recommendations that might be helpful, or find out about or receive products that can support the affected area, such as a brace for your knee or insoles for your shoes. You’ll also learn how to conduct strategies on yourself at home between treatment sessions, which will allow for greater pain relief and mobility.
  • Reduce the need for surgery. For some arthritis patients, surgeries are recommended to restore joints that have become extensively damaged. Physical therapy can help to reduce the need for surgery.

Dumbbells for Physical TherapyPhysical therapy has proven to be a highly effective method for treating arthritis symptoms. If you are suffering from this condition, contact our office to set up a consultation with one of our therapists today. We will conduct a thorough assessment of your condition and device a treatment program that will be customized for your specific needs with the goal of reducing your pain and improving your movement.

Our physical therapists have worked with countless arthritis patients and have delivered favorable results. To find out how we can help you, call us today! Your comfort and well-being are our top priority.

Suffering from Chronic Back Pain? Physical Therapy Can Help!

You’ve been suffering from back pain for longer than you care to remember. Some days can cope with the pain, but others, it’s downright debilitating and getting up off the couch is impossible. You don’t want to rely on medication, and while surgery may help, it’s the last thing you want to do. You can’t help but wonder if you are fated to a life of pain.

The good news is there is a way to reduce our chronic back pain, improve your mobility, and get your life back. There aren’t any medications or surgeries involved, either! No, we’re not talking about a miracle (though you might find it to be quite miraculous); we’re talking about physical therapy!

Pilates for Physical Therapy

Physical therapy has successfully helped people of all ages and with various types of injuries, illnesses, and medical conditions that cause pain or limit mobility regain their physical abilities and get their lives back.

Often, primary care doctors recommend physical therapy for chronic back pain. Unlike surgery, it’s non-invasive, and unlike medications, it isn’t habit forming.

If your healthcare provider has suggested physical therapy for your back pain and you’re wondering how it will help you, keep on reading to learn more.

Types of Physical Therapy for Back Pain

Several modalities are used in physical therapy to treat chronic back pain. These include:

  • Passive Therapy. Passive therapies include modalities that a physical therapist does to a patient. In other words, the patient doesn’t participate in these therapies, but rather the therapist executes them. Passive therapies can include:
    • Application of hot and cold treatments
    • Electrical nerve stimulation
    • Massage
    • Acupuncture
    • Ultrasound
  • Active Therapy. Active therapies refer to any treatments that the patient is actually involved with. In other words, the patient participates in the therapy. Exercises that aim to strengthen the muscles and joints in the back and learning more efficient ways to move in order to reduce pain are used in active therapy. Rest might also be considered active physical therapy for back pain, as the patient must actively choose not to participate in certain activities. The self-application of passive therapies can also be considered an active form of therapy, as patients must execute things like massage or electrical nerve stimulation on themselves.

Physical Therapy Patient

Usually, a combination of both passive and active physical therapy is used to treat chronic back pain.

Benefits of Physical Therapy for Chronic Back Pain

Physical therapy can provide several benefits for patients who suffer from chronic back pain. Here’s a look at some of the benefits that you could experience:

  • Reduction or Elimination of Pain. Without a doubt, one of the most troubling things about chronic back pain is the discomfort it causes. The combination of passive and active therapies can strengthen the muscles and joints in the back and teach you how to move properly, which can reduce or completely eliminate your pain.
  • Increased Mobility. The pain you are experiencing has likely limited your mobility. For example, you might be having trouble bending, walking, lifting, standing up, sitting down, or moving from side-to-side. Your physical therapist will apply treatments and teach you exercises that will reduce your pain and strengthen your back, which will restore your mobility.
  • Avoid Surgery. If physical therapy helps to significantly reduce your back pain and improves your mobility, there is a very good chance that you could avoid having surgery. If surgery is still needed, participating in physical therapy beforehand will aid in your recovery, minimizing your pain and helping you heal quicker.
  • Improved Well-Being. When you are in pain all the time and your movement is limited, there’s no doubt that your happiness and quality of life are impacted. The reduction or total elimination of pain and the ability to move freely and confidently will allow you to enjoy a significant improvement in your overall well-being.

How Physical Therapy Works

Before actual physical therapy begins, you will meet with a therapist for an intake assessment and a physical evaluation. You will be asked specific questions about your condition. A therapist will also go over any medical records to determine if a specific condition is causing your pain, and if so, the role that condition is playing in your discomfort. You will receive a physical examination. Your back will be examined and you will also be asked to perform certain tasks so that the therapist can see, first-hand, the impact of your back pain.

The physical therapist will use the information that is acquired during your intake assessment and physical exam to create a treatment plan that will be customized to your specific needs. Since every patient is different, an individualized therapy plan is important. Your plan will include therapies that aim to improve your pain and restore movement. Once a course of action is devised, you and your therapist will begin treatment. The duration of treatment, including the length and number of sessions, will depend on your specific case. Your therapist will perform evaluations throughout treatment to determine your progress.

If your doctor has recommended physical therapy for your chronic back pain or if you think it is an option that could help you, give us a call today. We will be happy to meet with you and discuss how we can help minimize your pain and most importantly, restore your life.