Whenever something goes wrong with your body, you’re likely tempted to turn to a doctor, assuming that self-help and the internet don’t come through for you. There are definitely some very serious conditions that you should see a doctor for, rather than trying to treat them at home. However, heading to a doctor is not your only option, and in the case of physical injuries, you may be better off seeing a physical therapist as well. In fact, you may find your doctor recommending one. This is because of the role physical therapy can play in dealing with bodily injuries.
Generally, people only think about physical therapy if they are athletes, or they’ve been in a serious accident—any situation where there is a serious physical injury. While it is true that physical therapists can help with such matters, they also bring more to the table when it comes to your health. For example, they can advise you how to exercise more safely and effectively, leading to a better workout. This is not to discount the wealth of knowledge a good doctor has, but when it comes to bones and joints and muscles, a physical therapist is likely more informed.
What a Physical Therapist is, and What They Do
Put simply, a physical therapist is a specialist. They are focused on the movement of the body, which means they understand how the different parts of the body (muscle, bone, joint) interact to make that happen. This is why they are able to help people recover from injuries, and how they are able to determine problems with bodily pain. They can examine how a limb moves, for example, and identify problematic patterns with that movement, such as stress or instability. Left unchecked, these can cause or exacerbate injury. Here are a few cases where you should consult a physical therapist.
1. Risk Assessment
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why we take vaccines and vitamin supplements, use seatbelts, wash our hands after using the bathroom, and why you should see a physical therapist. Just like a doctor can go over your risk factors for certain illnesses, a physical therapist can talk to you about your risk for suffering certain injuries, generally through tests such as a full movement screen, as well as a postural assessment. These tests will give you an idea of where you stand (and walk, and run) in terms of physical health.