How to Choose a Physical Therapist


Physical therapy focuses on treating musculoskeletal disorders.

One goal of physical therapists is to alleviate pain in their patients. In patients with back pain, physical therapy helps to strengthen the core muscles in their back, which adds to a person’s overall wellness.

Ultimately, physical therapists strive to restore the patient’s total functional abilities. Most patients visit physical therapists for chronic pain problems if they have injured themselves or if they underwent surgery.

For a person experiencing pain, most insurance companies require that he or she try physical therapy before turning to expensive surgery to fix the problem. Sometimes, participation in a physical therapy program can actually negate the need for surgery.

Other times, a physical therapy serves as part of the after-surgery care and recovery process. For example, if a person undergoes surgery to repair a rotator cuff, working with a physical therapist post-operation can play a huge part in a successful recovery.

Another common problem is that many patients suffer from degenerative disc problems in their backs. Normally, a problem like this requires surgery; however, patients may find that a physical therapy regimen helps to ease pressure and pain in their lower back.

A physical therapist can help in regaining the full range of motion for replaced joints or discs in the back.

Treatment by a physical therapist may also be necessary for remedying other kinds of injuries.

A person who lost a finger and had it reattached will need to practice with a physical therapist to regain feeling and movement. A person who has been incapacitated for an extended period may also require physical therapy to help regain their motion and functionality.

Check with your insurance company to see what requirements it has. You will usually have to pick a therapist that is in-network, rather than out-of-network. Even with an in-network physical therapist, insurance companies may still limit the number of visits they are willing to cover.

If you have narrowed your search down to just a few potential physical therapists, inquire into their previous work history. Do not be afraid to ask your potential therapists directly about their success rate with other patients.

One last option is to contact your state board of physical therapy to see if any complaints have been filed against the physical therapists you are considering.

A good physical therapist will double as a personal therapist during your sessions. Performing exercises prescribed by your therapist is very hard work, especially for patients in severe pain or recovering from surgery. When you feel tired or think you can no longer continue, the physical therapist is there for motivation.

Another sign of a good physical therapist is one that will not allow any excuses from the patient.

Instead, the therapist pushes the patient to his or her limits, which aids in a full recovery. The therapist is there to inspire the patient in order to help him or her regain full independence; this is especially important for elderly people who have problems getting around on their own.

Most importantly, make sure you feel comfortable with the physical therapist you choose, as the therapist may have to examine sensitive areas of your body to check for swelling or heat. Your therapist may also massage your muscles as part of therapy.

With the help of a good physical therapist and the dedication to follow-through with the exercises at home, a patient often recovers totally and is able to fully enjoy life again.

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