7 Reasons To See a Physical Therapist Before the End of the Year
This article about choosing to see a physical therapist before the end of the year was written by Mike Stodden, PT, owner of Stodden Physical Therapy.
This year has been an interesting one for many reasons. People’s routines changed. The locations they work from changed. The people they interacted with changed. For many, their health changed, too.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people had to make significant changes and sacrifices.to pick One area in which many people were forced to compromise was their health.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Changed The Way People Live
Unfortunately, many people were less active this year because the pandemic forced them indoors. Public health and safety directives limited medical facilities, and many people chose to forego both routine – and necessary – medical care.
Patients put off routine procedures and rescheduled appointments. They delayed elective surgeries. Working from home and fewer in person get-togethers with family and friends limited the amount of activities people participated in. However, as more and more people sought ways to safely exercise and explore the outdoors, injuries and the need for physical therapy increased.
There are many reasons to see a physical therapist. These reasons differ between patients, injuries and illnesses. A customized physical therapy program can help individuals return to their prior level of functioning and encourage activities and lifestyle changes that help improve overall health and wellness.
Unsurprisingly, it’s recommended to see your physical therapist as soon as possible. This is especially true if you’ve abandoned a regular exercise routine or put off routine wellness appointments throughout the year due to COVID restrictions.
The following list isn’t exhaustive, but it outlines some of the most common reasons people see a physical therapist each year. If you experience any of the following, don’t hesitate to reach out to a physical therapist near you.
Experiencing One of These Scenarios? It May Be Time To See a Physical Therapist
Neck or Back pain
Physical therapists are very skilled at evaluating and treating spine ailments. It’s hard to make it through regular activity if you have a neck or back issue.
Treatment options for the spine include:
- Dry needling
- Electrical stimulation
- High powered lasers
- Heat /cold
- Hands on work (tissue loosening and spinal segment movement)
- Exercises like stretching, strengthening, and postural stabilization
Headache or jaw pain
The widespread requirement for the wearing of masks at work, in public, while athletes play sports, and while children attend school has caused issues. While the masks themselves aren’t causing problems, they are changing people’s habits.
There has been a huge increase in reports of headaches, jaw pain, and TMD disorders this year. People of all ages are experiencing increased stress and anxiety as a result of the pandemic, resulting in behavior changes.
Examples of these new behaviors include:
- Grinding their teeth more
- Moving their jaws in different ways
- Getting headaches
Many dentists report increased numbers of patients having these symptoms. Choosing to see a physical therapist can help with many of these ailments by teaching patients effective coping strategies.
Tendinitis of the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, and wrist
Working from a makeshift desk in your dining room? Returning to the gym for the first time in months? It’s common to experience aches and pains that won’t go away.
These symptoms typically indicate tendinitis or overuse syndrome.
Physical therapy works to get you pain levels down. It also helps to get your range of motion back, before beginning strength work. This is the right formula to get you back to the gym, your yoga studio, and doing pilates, or crossfit safely.
Deconditioned people of all ages
While quarantined, many people simply stopped exercising. Over the course of a few months, the lack of physical activity results in the following consequences.
- Joint and muscle stiffness
- Weakness and fatigue
- Decreased flexibility
- Weight gain
- Decreased cardiovascular condition
Physical therapy can help you get started on the right exercise program in the right way. All it takes is the motivation to begin the process.
Balance or fall issues
Many physical therapists believe in the mantra “balance is strength, strength is balance.”
Increased strength and balance decreases the risk of a fall. The stronger you are – and feel – the stronger your body becomes. Many injuries and illnesses result in decrease of balance over time, and inactivity only adds to it.
Seeing a physical therapist helps decrease the risk of falling and gives patients confidence when performing everyday tasks. Finding balance requires finding – and building – strength, too.
Decrease use of medicine like narcotics, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxers
For people recovering from serious illnesses and injuries, these medications are necessary to provide pain relief and allow the body to heal. Physical therapy can help in these areas, too, and even help reduce the use of medications.
A physical therapist uses many tools that use the body’s natural healing processes. These include:
- Dry needling
- High powered lasers
- Electrical stimulation
- Manual, hands on work to move spinal segments, tissues, and muscles
Of course, exercise, accessing your body’s natural endorphins as you start, and showing patients how to move their body in the right way also matter.
It’s important to note, though, that you should never eliminate the use of medications like this without consulting your doctor. Doing so too quickly may be unsafe, which could lead to future complications and additional health issues.
It’s the end of the year, and your deductible is likely met
If you’ve sought medical care throughout the year, it’s likely that by now, any additional procedures and visits won’t cost you anything out of pocket. Why not let insurance help pay to get you back on track?
When you see a physical therapist, the goal is to get out of pain, get stronger, and get you back to exercising regularly. This is much less stressful when you know that your sessions won’t result in large, unexpected bills – especially for consultations and functional assessments.
You pay for medical insurance – so why not utilize it and reap the benefits?
See a Physical Therapist and Take Control of Your Health Before The New Year
Everyone talks about making New Year’s resolutions and changing habits when the calendar flips.
Why not start making these changes now? What’s holding you back?
Physical therapists want you to be healthy. They want you to exercise. But it’s up to you to begin the process of finding and beginning physical therapy sessions.
Start by finding a physical therapy facility near you. The BetterPT clinic location tool or the mobile app are great places to start. Not only do they give you all available options, but they provide information about therapists and clinics, too.
After choosing a clinic, it’s time to decide what type of physical therapy sessions you want. Traditional, in-person sessions are highly recommended. However, if there’s one great improvement that’s benefited the medical community through the pandemic, it’s the increased use of Telehealth.
Platforms like BetterTelehealth make it simple – and safe – to seek out physical therapy sessions from the convenience of your own home. The quality of care and services offered don’t change – it’s just the location that’s different. Virtual physical therapy sessions are especially useful in the cold, snowy months that much of the country faces during this time of year – so why not give them a try?
End the year by taking control of your health and choosing to see a physical therapist.
Mike Stodden, PT, owns Stodden Physical Therapy, an outpatient sports and rehabilitation clinic in Nebraska. He has practiced physical therapy for 18 years after graduating from the University of South Dakota, followed by receiving his Masters from the University of Iowa. Throughout his career, Mike’s focus has included inpatient therapy management as well as outpatient clinic experience. This includes establishing clinics, developing referral sources and acquiring insurance contracts.
Mike’s career has afforded him the opportunity to gain experience in many areas of physical therapy that include orthopedics, sports rehabilitation, home exercise planning and development and wound care. He’s worked with many patients and employees, and constantly strives to increase his knowledge within the physical therapy field. His overall goal is to find the most beneficial ways to get people healthy – and back to the lives they want.