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First Timers Guide to Physical Therapy

Posted by on January 18, 2020 in Healing & Natural Remedies, Health with 0 Comments

Millions of people have sought physical therapy at some point in their lives. There are various reasons why you might need this type of vital service, such as if you have suffered an injury, developed an illness or even if you have an inner ear condition known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV. Physical therapy can help with pain, mobility issues or dizziness so you can get back to optimal functioning. If you are a newbie to physical therapy, it’s important to have a guide so you know what to expect.

It Takes Time

First and foremost, it’s important to know that physical therapy is never a quick fix. It takes time to be effective, which means you can expect to come in up to two or three times per week for a few months depending on your situation and the severity of your condition. While it is certainly time-consuming, you should be patient and assured that your sessions will help, but that everything takes time to work and make you feel better.

Initial Stages

During the initial stages of your physical therapy appointment, the physical therapist will give you an initial evaluation. This is when you sit down with the physical therapist and explain your reason for coming in for sessions. They get to learn more about your condition, how it has been affecting your life and what your prior level of functioning was before experiencing the condition.

Your physical therapist may also instruct you to perform certain movements during the evaluation. For instance, if you are coming in for the treatment of BPPV, they may have you stand on various inclines and stand on one foot to check your level of balance. The physical therapist will also take note of the level of impairment your condition is affecting you and then devise a personalized treatment plan that should help heal and strengthen your body. You will also get a diagnosis if you haven’t already received one from a doctor.

There are certain questions you can expect to be asked by the physical therapist as well. They include the following:

  • Where are you feeling pain or what is the type of discomfort you are experiencing?
  • What is your level of pain or discomfort?
  • What is your health history?

When the physical therapist has you perform a few exercises during this initial stage, they examine and evaluate you based on the following:

  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Mobility
  • Muscle function
  • Posture
  • Range of motion
  • Skin integrity
  • Strength

In some cases, your physical therapist may also take your blood pressure and massage or place pressure on certain areas to assess whether you have pain. They also manipulate the area to be worked on to better assess your joints, muscle and tissue.

Keep in mind that you should always wear comfortable clothing that allows you to freely move around when you attend physical therapy sessions. You may want to wear a T-shirt and sweatpants or leggings. Generally, looser clothing is best when you have to undergo specific exercises for your treatment.

Pain May Happen

While it may be frustrating, you should also expect to experience some level of pain for some time. Physical therapy can be rigorous depending on your situation, which may result in some soreness, tenderness and even pain. However, over time, you will begin to gradually get used to the exercises your physical therapist has you perform and the movements they make to the area worked on.

Medical Payments and Copays

In many cases, your physical therapy sessions may be covered by your insurance, but not everyone is so lucky. If you find yourself requiring physical therapy due to an unexpected injury or fall, you may be surprised to find out your insurance does not fully cover your healing or the unexpected collateral injuries you may be experiencing. Some people may find the costs of the unexpected treatments to be more than they have budgeted for and can cover with savings. If you find yourself facing unexpected medical treatment that is not covered by your insurance, you may want to consider opening a line of credit to help during this time. This could be an option for you if you have unexpected injuries, but if you have a planned surgery coming up, try to get ahead of these soon-to-come costs by saving extra leading up to it, and cutting costs from other areas.

What Types of Therapy are Used?

Depending on your situation, there are various types of therapy your physical therapist may use and varying costs that are associated with each. These can be used in your session to help reduce your pain level or swelling, improve blood flow, range of motion and flexibility or increase relaxation. These methods include the following:

  • Dry needling
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Heat
  • Ice
  • Laser therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Water

At the end of the day, it’s important to know what to expect going into physical therapy. Be patient, don’t push yourself too hard and you will ultimately be better off for your sessions.

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