Dr. Dallin Page, DPT
4 Signs You Picked the Wrong Physical Therapist
When it comes to finding a physical therapist to work with people have found themselves in one of the three following scenarios:
Scenario 1: You have decided to give physical therapy a try but are having trouble knowing which practice to choose--there are so many options it can become overwhelming fast!
Scenario 2: You are currently seeing a physical therapist but aren't getting the results you were expecting or hoping for--you're wondering if you should continue.
Scenario 3: You have gone to a physical therapist in the past and found it a waste of time and therefore feel that physical therapy in general will not work for you.
These are 3 extremely common scenarios you may find yourself in so here are a few helpful tips to help you decide if you've chosen the wrong physical therapist.
1. Your physical therapist spends very little time asking you probing questions about your pain or limitation before providing you with a diagnosis.
Musculoskeletal issues tend to be multi-faceted problems requiring specific questioning to nail down the actual source of the pain. Taking a good detailed history from you, the patient, is at least 50% of the leg-work when it comes to correctly diagnosing your unique problem. A few quick 'yes or no' questions will not suffice and if this is your experience you are likely to be disappointed with the ultimate outcome of your care.
2. Your physical therapists doesn't actually watch you do the activities that aggravate you.
Most of the people that come to see me have seen another provider (PT, Chiropractor, Massage Therapist, Physician) before they see me. I always ask this question. Did the other provider you worked with actually watch you do whatever movement aggravates you? Almost 100% of the time the answer is no. If you have pain with squatting, doesn’t it make sense that the person you’re going to for help should watch you squat. It would be like you taking your car to the mechanic and he never starts it up or drives it around to see what’s wrong. This is a big red flag. If your PT isn’t evaluating your movement, you’re in the wrong place.
3. Your physical therapist gives you some handouts for home exercises that look like they were put together in the 1980s.
I have clients frequently bring me in handouts they've been given by a PT clinic they stopped going to. More often than not they come in with the same tired list of exercises that they've been handing out to everyone with [feel in your body part here] pain for decades!
Even worse is the fact that the print outs are always several pages long, creating a home exercise program so long that it becomes impossible to even keep up with them. This is inefficient and unnecessary.
What you do for your homework exercises, in my opinion, is more important than what your PT does with you in their office. You may see your PT 1-3 hours a week. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time you’re on your own. Education is the key to fast and long lasting results. If your PT clinic is relying on out of date handouts, you’re in the wrong place.
4. Your physical therapist tells you to stop [fill in your favorite sport or activity here].
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve seen at this point that have been told to stop doing the things that they love most. If you’re reading this and you’re a medical provider, stop doing this!
What do you think a runner would do if you just told them to stop running? How about a triathlete if you just told them to stop doing triathlons? Come on, these are sports these people have chosen because they are passionate about them. Don’t tell them to stop doing what they love. Why don't we instead teach them how to maintain their bodies, improve movement faults and train in a smart manner.
If your physical therapist tells you to stop doing the sports and/or activities you love, you’re in the wrong place.
Take home message...
You only have one body, treat it with the respect it deserves. Be an informed consumer and pick a physical therapist that understands you and your goals. There can be a massive difference in physical therapists even though they have the same piece of paper from an accredited university.
Pick someone you feel comfortable with and if you catch yourself in a place that sounds like what I’ve described above, you can leave. Just give them their dated handout back, thank them for their time and move on to the next physical therapist.
If you’re in the Charlotte area we'd love to work with you. Click one of the links below and we'll see if we can help you finally resolve whatever pain you're suffering with and help you reach your goals!
Thanks for reading!
~ Dr. Dallin Page
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