An essential part of any treatment plan is to listen to your own body and pay attention to the physical cues that signal something is off and needs attention. For many patients, the need to see a physical therapist doesn’t become obvious until they’ve experienced an injury or are at a place where they are completely immobile. But, if you do pay attention to the signs, you’ll notice before it gets to that point and seek treatment.
Here are 5 signs that you may be in need of physical therapy:
1. You still feel pain two or three days after a seemingly minor injury
Some injuries seem like nothing at first. You trip and fall, lightly turn an ankle or feel a “pinch” that doesn’t seem right. Just because you didn’t have to rush to the emergency room doesn’t mean you don’t need to follow up with a physical therapist. In fact, if you’re still feeling pain two or three days after the injury, you should probably reach out to your local PT office to make an appointment.
2. You’re experiencing recurring pain
Maybe you don’t know how your pain originated, if you’re experiencing recurrent dull or sharp pain, something is clearly wrong. This can show up in a number of ways:
Headaches: Recurring headaches can be the result of neck and back tension. A physical therapist can target stretching exercises and other techniques to limit the frequency and severity of your headaches.
Back Pain: One of the most common complaints among adults, back pain can be the result of poor ergonomics, poor posture, or poor form in performing strenuous activities. Physical therapy can target the cause of your back pain and help alleviate back tension.
Neck Pain: Neck pain is like back pain in that it can be the result of poor posture, poor sleeping positions, or stress. A well-trained physical therapist will identify why you’re experiencing neck pain and create a plan to alleviate it.
3. You’re feeling dizziness and vertigo
If you’ve been experiencing the feeling that the room is spinning or you’re consistently losing your balance, these may be symptoms of a condition such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
Physical therapists understand how to diagnose and treat BPPV with a wide range of treatments designed to alleviate this uncomfortable sensation. In many cases, sufferers of BPPV can recover fully from their symptoms in only a few sessions.
Another reason for losing your balance could be due to aging or nerve damage caused by diabetes or other conditions. Physical therapy is incredibly useful for improving balance, coordination, motor control, and postural awareness. Specific exercises help develop the physical skills needed to be safe while staying active.
4. Your joints are stiff, unstable, or weak
Another sign you could use physical therapy is joint instability, pain, or stiffness. Joint pain is usually attributed to arthritis or a long-term effect of a previous injury. Stiffness and instability happen over time as a result of the same issues or simply from a lack of use.
The problem is you need your joints to move, so you can only ignore the problem for so long until you become immobile. That’s when patients end up having to take more invasive measures like partial or full joint replacement.
With physical therapy, you can increase the longevity of your joints through exercises, non-invasive modalities, manual therapy, and even orthotics and other adaptive devices.
5. You’re avoiding certain movements or activities
In many cases, patients know they need to see a physical therapist because they’ve had to avoid certain movements. For example, they can’t sit down without assistance or single step their way up and downstairs.
Whether it’s because of a diagnosed condition like arthritis, recovering from an injury or stroke, or an issue with unknown origins, physical therapy can help patients retrain their bodies and resume everyday activities and the hobbies they love.
If you’re experiencing any of these situations, this is your sign to contact a physical therapist to get you on the road to better mobility.
Find a physical therapy clinic near you.