1. Was your physical therapist specialized to treat your type of condition?
It may seem like an obvious point but not all physical therapists are created equal. Just because you saw one therapist and it didn’t help doesn’t mean that physical therapy in general cannot help you.
It’s possible you just didn’t see the right therapist for your particular condition.
Think of it this way…You wouldn’t abandon all high blood pressure medications just because your physician prescribed one that wasn’t effective—you would try again until you found the one that helped!
Doctors of Physical Therapy can choose to specialize by taking continuing education courses, getting certified in various treatment techniques or by doing residency programs.
These things can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your physical therapy.
Many times, without specialized training, a therapist will be unable to effectively treat your specific condition.
2. Did your therapist listen to your concerns?
No matter their level of education, if your therapist does not listen to your concerns and respond in a way that tells you they are actually hearing you, you need to find a new therapist.
I utilize the 80/20 rule when it comes to working with my patients—let them do 80% of the talking, especially during the first few sessions when I am trying to fully understand the patient’s history.
You, as the patient, know your body and what you are feeling. It is only by giving you the time to share your story in detail that the answers to solving your specific condition can be determined!
3. Did your therapist insist on a “no pain, no gain” mentality?
If so, again…find a new therapist! This is the wrong mentality when it comes to treating muscle, joint and nerve pain. If you leave your therapy session feeling worse than when you arrived, something is wrong.
When you work with the right therapist, you will not dread going but will look forward to your sessions with anticipation and excitement because of how great you feel every time you leave!
4. Did your therapist take the time to explain your problem clearly and simply?
The sign of a great therapist is when they are able to take what can sometimes be a complex issue (ie. your specific condition or diagnosis) and explain it to you in a clear and simple way without resorting to complicated and confusing medical jargon.
And the reality is that in order to achieve lasting improvement in muscle or joint pain, you as the patient must fully understand your condition.
In my experience, there is almost always a direct correlation between the level of understanding my patients have of their condition and their ultimate success or failure in achieving their goals.
5. Did your insurance company dictate your treatment?
You may not know how to answer this question at first glance.
Here are some clues to help you decide if your care was being dictated by your insurance company…
Your therapist was always bouncing around treating multiple patients simultaneously during your sessions.
You were frequently given a list of exercises to perform by yourself while your therapist was busy typing treatment notes on the computer.
Your therapist was always too busy to take time and answer your questions.
You were always having to see a different therapist each visit and never knew who you were going to get.
You were discharged early because you ran out of “covered visits” or your insurance company no longer viewed your physical therapy care as “necessary.”
Today’s medical system is broken in many ways, most notably for the fact that insurance companies dictate the care you receive regardless of what your physical therapist’s professional judgement might be. Unfortunately, these companies are not operating with your best interests in mind.
I started Movement Physical Therapy & Spine so that I could do what I was trained to do: work for you, not an insurance company!
~ Dr. Dallin Page