Authored by Zachary Walston, PT, DPT,

If you experience an injury or develop the onset of pain, seeing a physical therapist early can help you address and manage your symptoms. Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. Here are 5 reasons to choose physical therapy early for pain.

1. Get Better Safely, Without Fear of Causing Further Injury
Pain may cause you to avoid activity for fear of causing more damage. After a thorough evaluation your physical therapist will design a personalized plan of care based on your needs and goals to:

• Improve and manage your pain.
• Safely improve movement, function, and quality of life.
• Recover from injury and prevent future injury.

Physical therapists often work with other members of your health care team to ensure the best possible care.

2. Stay Physically Active To Avoid the Cost and Potential Risk of Surgery and Prescription Opioids
When an injury or pain occurs, our body enters protection mode. Often, people in pain avoid moving altogether. But avoiding all activity can delay recovery, and lead to new problems. To recover from most causes of pain, it’s important to keep moving. An active lifestyle that is appropriate for your condition can help you manage symptoms and decrease or eliminate pain. A physical therapist will help you:

• Understand your pain.
• Set realistic expectations for recovery.
• Prescribe exercise specific to your condition, needs, and goals.

A physical therapy program may help you avoid or delay surgery and can help you properly prepare for surgery, if required. Physical therapy also is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a safe and effective alternative to opioids for the management of most non–cancer-related pain. A physical therapist can help you understand the use of any medication that is best for your condition and show you safe ways to reduce your pain.

3. Recover as Soon as Possible

Those who seek care within two weeks of an injury or onset of pain may require less care. In addition to treating your pain, your physical therapist will help you better understand your symptoms and provide strategies to manage your pain and recovery, as soon as your condition allows.

4. Avoid Other Problems Caused by Chronic Pain

When pain lingers, we may develop new movement patterns to avoid it. As a result, you may develop additional issues that require more time and effort to treat and reverse. Problems that may develop include:

• Stiffness.
• Loss of strength and endurance.
• Increased sensitivity to and frequency of pain.

Seeing a physical therapist at the onset of pain may prevent it from becoming chronic.

5. Achieve Your Goals
Movement is crucial to your health, quality of life, and independence. For some people, pain makes movement a challenge. Your physical therapist can discuss your goals and work with you to develop a program to achieve them so you can get back to your desired activities or sport as soon as possible.

Authored by Zachary Walston, PT, DPT, board-certified clinical specialist in orthopaedic physical therapy. Reviewed by Steve Reischl, PT, DPT, board-certified clinical specialist in orthopaedic physical therapy, on behalf of the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy.

Find a Physical Therapist
Although direct access laws vary by state and insurance plans differ, you do not need a physician’s referral to make an appointment with a physical therapist for an evaluation.

Schedule an appointment with a physical therapist near you here or give us a call at 877-224-4352.