PT Month: Injured? Physical Therapy Should be Your First Stop

There’s nothing worse than the fear, pain, and uncertainty after injury. Many people turn to friends, family, and (of course) the all-knowing internet for answers; however, this often brings more questions than answers and causes more anxiety. Unless you’re well-versed in anatomical knowledge, are you sure that you’re even looking up the right area? As helpful as your loved ones try to be, they likely don’t have the medical training necessary to accurately diagnose you. One place that should be synonymous with injury treatment and diagnosis? The physical therapist’s practice.

You may think that you’ll see a physical therapist if you need to, after you see your regular doctor – and sometimes it does work that way. On the other hand, you can actually see your physical therapist first, receive your diagnosis there and move immediately into treatment. By starting at the place you’d likely end up, you’re saving time, money, and starting on your recovery sooner.

Some people think that they have to see their general doctor first, and that the doctor will write the order for what the PT will have them follow. In fact, physical therapists are typically a doctor in one of several disciplines, and are experts in the musculoskeletal system. They can assess you and they (not your GP) develop your custom treatment plan. They’re the ideal resource when you’ve just suffered an acute injury. You may be at home, trying conservative treatment for an injury, concerned and worried that your injury is something that may keep you laid up for weeks or months to come. Your physical therapist will talk with you, examine your injury, and make recommendations for treatment.

If s/he is concerned that you might need imaging, such as an x-ray, or to see a different specialist s/he will recommend it. Your PT’s treatment plan may include multiple visits to physical therapy, at-home exercises for you to do, rest, ice, and possible taping, etc. Now, thanks to Direct Access laws, you have 42 days to see a physical therapist without a referral! After that, your PT’s office should work with your insurance/doctor’s office if a referral becomes necessary for future visits.

It isn’t just professional athletes who fear the injury bug. Recreational runners, cyclists, triathletes, etc all worry about that one injury that is going to take them out right before the big event. When something does happen, in the form of a pulled muscle, a sore back, a swollen ankle, or a pain you just can’t practice through, the physical therapist is the place to turn. Not only can the physical therapist diagnose your injury, but they’re used to working with patients of all activity levels, as well as the patients’ accompanying emotions that go along with an event-threatening injury. Your PT’s job is also to educate you; you’ll learn what you injured, likely how you injured it, what might have contributed to that injury, how you’ll work on recovery, what you’ll do to prevent future injury, and what you can (and shouldn’t) do while you get better.

Example: a distance runner comes in with pain and slight swelling near the ankle. After the PT reviews her history and examines her, she learns she has a sprain, likely from a fall on a previous run. The physical therapist also tells the runner that she has tight calves, and shows her how to stretch them properly. She’s given a custom treatment plan and detailed instructions for when/how to safely return to activity.

If you’re dealing with injury, you aren’t alone! Whether you fell off a sidewalk taking your dog for a walk, or you’re a life-long serious cyclist with sudden pain, Body One Physical Therapy is ready to help you get back on track. Each of our three Indianapolis locations – North Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville – offers free injury screenings so you don’t have to wait in line at the doctor’s. Come in and see one of our caring, expert providers and let us help you get started on your recovery. Body One PT: locally-owned, locally-operated, and Indiana’s choice for recovery. Call us today!