What to Do If You Can’t Fix an Injury on Your Own
Muscle and joint injuries can occur from participating in the most common tasks. Imagine you’ve just planted the last batch of flowers in the yard and you stand to admire your work. The landscaping is exquisite. But so is the pain in your back. You stretch a few times to loosen it but that only intensifies the pain. You take an aspirin and lay down, hoping the discomfort will go away overnight. However, the next day your back is so stiff you can barely move. Now what?
Pain is an indication of injury so stop any activity you are doing as soon as you feel pain. Gentle stretching may help at the onset of the pain. Stretching warms the area and loosens the muscles. A gentle stretch not only gives you an idea of the range of motion available once pain has started, but stretching before any repetitive activity helps to prevent pain from happening in the first place. If you suspect an injury, applying an ice pack to a painful area will reduce swelling and provide relief.
When to See a PT
If the pain persists and/or you suspect an injury, it’s time to see a physical therapist. Physical therapists are trained to not only restore strength and range of motion, but to manage pain as well. They will identify the source of your pain, develop and implement a treatment plan to address the pain and give you suggestions to educate you as to how to prevent pain from happening in the future.
Treatment may involve manual therapy, heat or cold packs, electrical stimulation, ultrasound and/or water therapy. Your PT may assign exercises to do at home as well.
What to Look for in a PT
Like any medical professional, it is important that your physical therapist is qualified to treat you and they get results, and that you enjoy an easy rapport with that person. Professional physical therapists must be licensed by the state.
Painful situations are unique and require a personal touch so don’t be afraid to ask questions during your initial exam. The following questions may help you determine if the PT you are talking to is the right one for you:
- Do you have experience treating the condition I am dealing with? If so, how much experience do you have? What are your results?
- How will you determine my treatment plan?
- Will my treatment plan involve any special equipment? If so, what equipment will you use?
- For how long will I require treatment and how long will each treatment session last?
If you feel uncomfortable by the answers given by the therapist you speak to, ask your doctor for a referral to another physical therapist or look for one in your area online. Once you have chosen a therapist you feel comfortable with, make sure you wear loose clothing to your appointments so you can move freely and easily. If you leave the office with an at-home treatment plan, it is vital you follow the instructions you are given and to do the prescribed exercises in the order given.
It’s important to remember that pain is not normal – it is your body’s way of telling you that something is not right. Don’t wait for pain to go away on its own. Whether your pain stems from a muscle strain through repetitive action, an injury or a chronic condition, you owe it to yourself to have it evaluated. The longer the cause goes untreated, the more damage you can do to muscle and joint tissue.
Take Advantage of a Free Physical Therapy Screening
A free health and injury screening is an excellent way to find out if physical therapy is right for you and to help you find a therapist you feel comfortable with.
If you live in Montana’s Flathead Valley, you can take advantage of a free screening from Professional Therapy Associates. Their health screening, valued at $100, gives you the opportunity to consult with a licensed physical therapist at no charge who will conduct appropriate testing to pinpoint the cause of your pain or limited range of motion.
Residents of Flathead Valley can register online for your free consultation or make an appointment at one of Professional Therapy Associates’ four convenient locations: North Kalispell (406-756-7878), Whitefish (406-862-5033), Columbia Falls (406- 892-7999) and Flathead Health and Fitness in Downtown Kalispell (406-257-5610).
When done properly, physical therapy can help you avoid permanent damage and prevent recurrent pain. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the body heals itself and how much better you will feel.