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5 Times a Physical Therapist Can Change your Life for the Better

1. You just threw out your back.

If you have ever tweaked your back causing pain in your back or even down your leg, you know it can be debilitating.

Low back pain is incredibly common, and thankfully in most cases, conservative management will be all you need to make a full recovery. Research shows that getting physical therapy early on (especially before getting x-rays or MRI’s), can leave you with less out of pocket costs, faster recovery, and lower chances of developing chronic pain.

Doctors of Physical Therapy know how to screen for red flag conditions that may require physician care, and have extensive training in treating both acute and chronic back pain to help you stay active and pain-free.

2. You are feeling your age in ways you dislike.

If you are feeling more achiness in your joints, have had a few falls (or near misses), or are avoiding doing things love gardening or playing with your grandkids because you’re worried about getting back up off the ground, a good physical therapist can help you recover your mobility, and maintain your independence as you age.

3. You are getting more headaches since working from home.

Headaches and neck pain often go together. When you have changes in your work setup, stress levels, or routine, your body can have a hard time adapting. Many people hold their stress in their neck muscles, and this can lead to cervicogenic headaches (or headaches radiating from the neck).

Physical therapists can help you by providing hands-on pain-relieving treatment, adapting your workstation ergonomics, prescribing exercises for your posture and flexibility, and by helping you plan ways to decrease sedentary behavior. This can leave you with fewer "headache days" and more time to enjoy the things you love.

4. You have been dealing with on-again/off-again pains with activity.

Do you live with nagging pains that are bothersome but manageable? Your achilles tendon, kneecap area, and the outside of the elbow are all common places for overuse injuries, and sometimes managing this pain at home works well.

But, if you notice these symptoms coming back over and over, a physical therapist should assess how your whole body moves to find the root of the problem. Once they know what the problem is, they can help you help you stretch and strengthen areas to avoid having the pain come back even after a long run or a fun night of dancing.

5. You want to avoid surgery.

Have you been to a physician for pain, only to get an x-ray or MRI and find out you have a meniscus or rotator cuff tear, bulging discs, or bone-on-bone arthritis?

If this happens, you may think your only option is to get surgery to fix the “broken” thing. However, research shows that x-rays and MRI findings don’t always find to what is actually causing pain. In fact, more than 50% of pain-free 50-year-olds have MRIs that show bulging discs in their low back.

What does this mean for you? It means that by seeing a Physical Therapist who will perform a comprehensive physical examination to find what is causing your pain, you can often avoid surgery by addressing your specific strength and flexibility deficits. As a bonus, if you do end up needing surgery down the road, having rehab before surgery is associated with shorter recovery times and better results.

This is only a short list of the things physical therapists treat on a regular basis. If you live in North Carolina and are looking for someone to help you move freely with less pain, schedule a free consultation here. Dr. Tomkoski would love to hear your story and help in whatever way she can.

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