Questions to Ask your Physical Therapist

Questions to Ask your PT

Many people come to SSOR Physical Therapy and have not had any experience with physical therapists prior to coming here.  Some may have had physical therapy previously, but maybe didn’t connect with the physical therapist or never quite felt that they “got it” in regards to what their concerns, desires, and goals were.  Physical therapy may even be an intimidating experience for some people because they don’t know what to ask.  Still others may be confused about what a physical therapist can answer that a primary care physician, orthopedic doctor, or a chiropractor could answer.  Here’s a list of questions to ask your physical therapist.
questions 300x225 Questions to Ask your Physical Therapist

  1.  What’s wrong with me/Why do I hurt?  This may be the most important of the questions to ask.  Everybody wants to know what the problem is, how they got to see you, and what they can do about it.  Unfortunately, many people use the internet as their doctor which creates anxiety and fear.  Some people have been to their doctor already and really gained no new knowledge or insights as to what is actually wrong with them because their doctor didn’t take the time to explain it (or they don’t know!).  So many patients have imaging done and doctors tell them that “the x-rays/MRI’s didn’t show anything,” yet patients still hurt.  It’s important your therapist can help you understand what’s wrong.
  2. How did this happen and how can I fix it?  OK, so we pinned down what you have going on, now we need to know “why” it happened.  Maybe you sit all day at work with poor posture and it’s causing headaches.  Perhaps you pulled a muscle in a rec basketball league.  Maybe you suffered low back injury lifting a heavy object at work.  Regardless if you have an acute or chronic injury, you should understand how it occurred and what you can do to avoid it from happening again.
  3. How can you help as the PT?  It’s really important for a successful outcome that physical therapy is a two-way street.  You need a competent physical therapist to guide you and give you direction, but you also have to keep your appointments and fully commit to the treatment plan.  Whether it’s doing exercises or making adjustments at your work station, truly getting you better is often a combination of things and a solid physical therapist will give you all you need to achieve your goals.
  4. Anything else I can do to help this situation?  Sometimes, it’s not just all about exercise and stretching to get you better.  It may involve activity modification, getting a good shoe, stop wearing flip-flops in the short-term, or a host of other things that may be contributing to your condition.  We tell our patients that getting better is often a recipe of things to address – a tablespoon of exercise, a teaspoon of activity modification, and a “pinch” of changing how you bend over.
  5. How much will it cost me?  Far and away, health care payment is confusing and frustrating.  People just don’t understand how their benefits work.  Make sure you understand what your co-pays and deductibles are so you can properly budget.
  6. How long will it take?  A competent physical therapist will give you an estimate of how long it will take to get you better.  By no means should you just keep going endlessly to physical therapy with no end in sight or no specific tasks you are working towards.  If you’re not sure why you are still going, you probably need to have a discussion with your physical therapist.
  7. What will the sessions be like?  Your sessions should not be a regurgitation of your home program.  Your PT should get their hands on you and progress your program accordingly.  Make sure that a licensed physical therapist or licensed physical therapy assistant is helping you with your program, not an untrained aide/tech.  You should clearly see the value in coming to physical therapy.  If not, you may need to look for a new PT.

We hope this list of questions to ask give you some direction when starting physical therapy and hope they give you some things to keep in mind as you go through the process.  It would be a privilege to serve you and partner with you in your care.

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