Move It or Lose It!
When an injury occurs that causes pain or restricts your ability to perform, what do you do to get moving again? We used to treat these injuries with the RICE method — rest, ice, compression, and elevation. That treatment is still valid in some circumstances, but studies show that the best way to speed up recovery is to get you moving as soon as possible. Why?
If you’ve injured your ankle, you still have two good arms and one leg with which to work. But if you sit at home doing nothing until the injury is healed, your ankle will still be stiff and weak, and the rest of your body will also be out of shape from the inactivity. For this reason, doctors now prescribe physical therapy in Bellevue to keep you active and prevent the injured area from atrophying.
When Should I Consider Physical Therapy for An Injury?
If you have pain that still lingers after a week’s rest, it’s time to schedule a consultation with a physical therapist. Even though you may not need a doctor’s referral to get an appointment, it can be a good idea to see your MD first for a diagnosis and then follow up with a visit to a physical therapist.
What Can I Expect At My Visit With a Physical Therapist?
A visit to your physical therapist is not unlike a visit to your local health club, using equipment such as treadmills, exercise balls, weights, and foam rollers. For your first appointment we suggest you wear comfortable, loose clothing and sneakers.
Once our helpful and welcoming supporting staff has checked you in, you’ll meet with one of our expert therapists who will test your strength, range of motion, joint stability, and flexibility to determine what underlying issues may have contributed to your injury. After the evaluation, your therapist will come up with a comprehensive treatment plan to rehab the injured area, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and prevent you from getting hurt in the future.
On subsequent visits you’ll perform a series of stretching and strengthening exercises. Your treatment may also call for ice or heat, massage, ultrasound, and/or electrical stimulation (a painless electrical current directed at the injured muscle to improve blood flow, increase strength, and relieve discomfort). You may be asked to do an exercise routine at home a few times a week on your own also.
Preventative Physical Therapy
For a minor injury such as a strained muscle or a twisted ankle, you should feel significant improvement within five visits, each of which may last from 30 to 60 minutes. More involved conditions, including tendinitis and plantar fasciitis, usually require about 12 visits over the course of four to six weeks.
But physical therapy isn’t just beneficial for injuries that have already occurred. We also recommend preventative physical therapy because most injuries are the result of long-standing weaknesses. Correcting those problems before an injury occurs can save you a lot of stress and money down the line.
If you can’t touch your toes or complete a deep squat without pain, you should definitely consider making an appointment. These are often signs of an underlying problem, such as tight hamstrings or underdeveloped muscles.
Should you consider treating your injury with physical therapy? Bellevue Bone and Joint Physicians can help you decide if this is the right treatment for you. We want to help keep you active and healthy. Contact us today for a consultation.