There is a rising claim among patients that PT is not helping their pain. Some complain that their pain even increased after beginning physical therapy. Why is this? Are we as trained therapists doing something wrong? The answer is most likely stemming from impatience among the patients. Whether they are attending PT post surgery or they have been living with pain for a long period of time, they have decided enough is enough; the pain must go. Hooray! They made the right choice in seeking out therapy! The problem is, patients seeking medical attention for their pain often have unrealistic views. Most do not what to put forth the effort or time into the programs and exercises that will eventually decrease their pain. Healing takes time and effort from both parties. Instant gratification may be granted in other areas of life, however not so much in the medical world.
It is our job as physical therapists to educate and analyze the complex nature of pain. This means, setting realistic goals and treatments. The way to get the most out of PT is to mentally prepare yourself [patient and therapist] for the struggle. It’s going to be tough. One of you will get discouraged or impatient but don’t give up! Every patient will have a different experience with pain during treatment. This is why is superlative that the patient communicates openly with the therapist. Be aware of your limits and keep track of the severity of the pain. Is it a muscle ache from exercising or is there an overexertion happening? Most of all, complete the treatment plan. No shortcuts, no cheating, and no giving up! These exercises planned for you are to increase range of motion, strength, endurance and mobility. They will not succeed if you only show up for two sessions. Perfectly healthy people train 12-20 weeks for a marathon. Even people who are regularly active and healthy have to train and prepare their body. So before you write off PT forever, change your state of mind and remember to have patience and a positive attitude.