Five Signs It’s Time to Start Doing Physical Therapy

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We could all use a little physical therapy now and then.

Whether it’s illness, injury, or disability, any condition that limits our capabilities or causes us pain is a candidate for PT.

Licensed physical therapists are specialists in restoring mobility, reducing or eliminating pain, and maintaining functional fitness — all with non-invasive, practical exercises and physical therapy products that promote the body’s natural healing processes.

Sometimes a physical therapist supplements the work of other doctors — helping a patient recover from surgery, for example — while at other times a visit to a PT is all a person needs.

If you’re wondering when to start physical therapy, here are five signs that it might be time.

When to Start Physical Therapy: Five Indicators That It Might Be Time

Pain — This is the big one, the one that finally motivates many of us to seek help for a nagging problem. Do your knees hurt when you get out of bed in the morning? Is there a stabbing sensation in your elbow when you try to drink your coffee? Does your neck constantly ache? How’s your shoulder feeling these days? If your body hurts somewhere, there’s a good chance that a physical therapist knows a way to alleviate the pain. There are exercises and therapies for underlying conditions like osteoarthritis. There are protocols for treating inflammation and strains that will allow you body to heal. There is posture conditioning and functional training that can not only address current aches and pains, but teach you how to prevent new ones in the future. Whatever the pain is, PT can help.

Function — As with pain, any loss of function is a red flag that should send us straight to the doctor or physical therapist. If you can no longer raise your arm above your shoulder, if your grip strength isn’t what it used to be, if you can’t fully extend your knee, these are all problems that can be addressed by a qualified PT.

Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehab — Heart and lung issues may seem like something you should see a specialist doctor for, and that’s true. But as part of your recovery process, you’ll need to rebuild your strength, and this is best done under the supervision of trained professionals. A physical therapist can guide your recovery in a safe environment, optimizing your training so that you get the most benefit with the least risk.

Age — As we get older, our bodies inevitably begin to show signs of wear and tear. We break down more easily and we don’t bounce back like we used to. But with guidance from a physical therapist, we can learn the exercises that strengthen us and keep us flexible for the long haul, extending our capabilities well past the usual sell-by date.

Surgery — If you’re going in for a planned surgery, you can often expect to come out with limited functionality as you heal during the post-operative period. A plan for physical therapy — both before surgery and after — can help you heal faster and optimize the recovery process. Depending on the type of surgery, physical therapy could have you back on your feet and enjoying life again much faster than otherwise.