Why Physical Therapy May Not Have Worked for You

Written by Clinicient

Have you tried physical therapy before and it just didn’t work for you? You went to a few sessions, performed your exercises while you were at the clinic but your pain continued? Ask yourself, did you complete your entire plan of care recommended by the physical therapist? Did you perform your home exercise program on your own daily, as prescribed?

Physical therapy has many different purposes and can often hold the key to your own wellness. But just like finishing a prescription for antibiotics, it’s important to complete your entire physical therapy regime in order to get its full effect.

For physical therapists, the most difficult portion of a patients plan of care is often the home exercise portion. For patient’s, this is often true as well. The reason for patient’s “non-compliance” varies but time and motivation are common factors. As a patient though, it’s important to know that you are not alone in this and there are ways to work with your PT to build a successful plan.

So, how can you set yourself up for a pain-free life and stick to your plan of care? Don’t miss these below strategies to get you on and keep on the road to recovery.  

Find Your Goal

What’s your reason for being in physical therapy? Identifying your purpose for being in good health will help you stay motivated through the long haul. By completing an entire course of physical therapy, you help to eliminate your pain from an injury and strengthen your muscles and joints that will help you get back to a life without pain. By dropping out of PT early, you are getting in the way of your own recovery and setting yourself up for potentially more painful consequences down the road. Working towards a functional goal will keep you focused and driven to stick to your plan of care (both in the clinic and at home).

Know the Importance of Every Exercise

Your physical therapist should let you know why you’re doing every single exercise in your home exercise program so you can relate it back to your functional goals. Whether you have a goal of getting back to the golf course, playing with your grandkids or walking without pain, every exercise you do should be geared towards that. Don’t be afraid to ask your physical therapist how leg raises or clamshells are inching you closer to your goals. Knowing that the goal isn’t to do a perfect leg raise but to strengthen your muscles is important so you are excited to put in the work.

Strategize Your Time

The number one reason patients say they have trouble completing their at home exercises is lack of time – unfortunately, most exercises only take 10 minutes a day so it’s often a case of not making the time rather than having the time. To carve it out, look through your schedule with your physical therapist and let them help you identify times during your day that you can squeeze in exercises. There are likely exercises you can do in the car, at your desk or when you first wake up. We also recommend using apps to track your progress and send information back to your therapist to keep you accountable.

Be Honest With Yourself

Being honest with yourself when it comes to the realistic time you have to spend towards your at home exercises, why you weren’t able to complete your exercises or even why you’re in PT, to begin with, is important to your overall, long-term wellness. It’s not hard for physical therapists to spot someone who has been slacking in their home exercises. Being honest with yourself and your PT though is much better than staying silent. It’s okay to admit you don’t understand the exercise or you aren’t able to do it – this is where your PT comes in! Work with them to develop a home exercise program that works for you and will still bring you closer to your goals.

When it comes to building an effective at home exercise plan and sticking to it, often the secret sauce can lie in the partnership you build with your PT. Using a platform like BetterPT can allow you to research therapists in your area ahead of time and easily schedule an appointment via your mobile phone or computer with the one who’s the best fit for you. With direct access, you no longer need a referral from a physician before you book, making it easier than ever to see a PT. Finding a well-matched physical therapist will go a long way in making for more pleasant appointments and encouraging you to complete your at home exercises so you can both reach your goals.

If you are still having pain or weakness, we encourage you to give physical therapy another chance, but this time be in charge of your recovery! Stick to the plan of care, complete your at home exercises and be on your path to feeling BETTER today.

Clinicient INSIGHT is a unified electronic medical record (EMR), practice management and billing system intended for outpatient rehabilitation therapy facilities.

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