As PT Month continues, we want to remind you that getting physical therapy FIRST after an injury can save you both time and money. Early physical therapy is associated with better long-term outcomes with fewer days lost from work.
It’s a misconception that a “wait and see” approach is beneficial. Waiting to see what happens can exacerbate a problem. Seeing a physical therapist soon after an injury can identify the severity of that injury, thereby preventing a minor case from turning into a major one. While it may feel natural to rest and avoid movement after an initial injury, this can lead to longer term problems.
Further, when an injured worker sees a physical therapist first, we can educate on phases of healing and how that may impact their perception of pain. It’s normal to experience pain after an injury and even after you expect it to feel better. The body takes time to heal, and the right physical therapy tools can help the process.
In addition, early physical therapy can delay surgery. If you respond well to conservative treatment through exercise and movement, then you may not need surgery. It’s far cheaper and less invasive! However, we can also identify when imaging would be helpful if the injury is more severe.
Finally, we know you’ve heard about the opioid crisis in our country, where patients hurt themselves at home or at work and get immediately prescribed with pain medication, which can be addictive. Seeing a physical therapist after a fall, workplace injury, or athletic injury can mitigate the need for long-term opioid medication. It’s normal to experience pain with physical therapy, but there is good evidence to suggest that this can be beneficial for healing when dosed appropriately. So, if you can avoid pain medication AND potential surgery, why not go to physical therapy first? (Sun E, Moshfegh J, Rishel CA, Cook CE, Goode AP, George SZ, JAMA 2018)
At Peak Form, our occupational medicine providers work closely with physical therapists to optimize patient outcomes. They refer to therapy early after a worker comes in with injury and if the patient doesn’t improve, then we can evaluate whether other medical interventions are necessary.
Choose to be healthy and strong – choose PT first!
By Laura Vroman