How to know when you need a physical therapist

Published - Jan 18, 2022

The following is a guest blog post from our partners at Luna. IRG and Luna work together to provide at-home physical therapy services to our patients. Click here to learn more about IRG On-Demand physical therapy, powered by Luna.

How to know when you need a physical therapist

By Luna

At Luna, we believe in the power of physical therapy and its ability to help people heal. The problem? Too many people in pain are unaware that they need physical therapy in the first place.

So, do you need physical therapy or not? That’s what we’ll cover today to help you find clarity into whether it’s time to seek out a physical therapist.

(The questions and answers below came from a recent conversation between our co-founder and head of clinical services, Palak Shah, and the hosts of MindPump, the number one fitness, health, and entertainment podcast. Read on or listen to the full episode here.)

First of all, what is physical therapy?

Physical therapists are movement specialists. Physical therapy is a program that is covered by insurance. It’s a healthcare provision to ensure that you receive care to recover and bring you back to physical activity. However, the definition of physical therapy is changing. In the past, you’d go to a physical therapist [when] you were injured or hurt [or] needed to get better from something. Musculoskeletal injuries are one of the most common healthcare expenditures. Physical therapy can be looked at as primary care, rehabilitative, post-rehabilitative, pre-rehabilitative. There are a lot of times when PT is what a patient needs, and the definition isn’t very clear to everybody.

What’s the goal of physical therapy?

To discover the right movement to help your muscles recover and get you back to the things you love. It’s the physical therapist’s job to conduct a thorough assessment to uncover why there is pain or discomfort in the first place. Is the patient not moving correctly? Are they moving less? Are they moving more? We first must understand the problem and identify the cause before jumping into treatment. As physical therapists, we’re never treating the pain, we’re treating the cause.

When is it time to see a physical therapist?

Whether you’re facing an acute injury or experiencing chronic pain, physical therapy can help. It’s important to seek help from an experienced PT who can identify the root of the problem versus trying to treat the condition yourself. Let’s say you have knee pain (the second most common condition that physical therapy treats). Oftentimes, that pain has nothing to do with the knee itself. The root cause could be another muscle in your body that’s not doing its job.

What keeps people from seeking physical therapy treatment?

People don’t know what they don’t know. Let’s say you go to urgent care because you’re experiencing lower back pain (the most common musculoskeletal condition treated in the US). You’re panicking because you can’t straighten up. The physician may fail to refer you to physical therapy, causing you to bounce from one doctor to another looking for answers and healing when physical therapy is what you needed from the start.

What kind of people should seek out physical therapy?

Don’t wait to be injured. If you’re having aches and pains or if you’re unable to do what you do best, see a physical therapist. If you’re having low back pain from sitting and working all day long, see a physical therapist. If you’re having neck pain that hasn’t gone away in 15 days, go see a physical therapist. The earlier you seek treatment, the better your prognosis. The sooner you start physical therapy, the higher the chance you’ll heal without needing [x-rays] or medication. It’s time to take your health into your own hands.

Ready to get started with physical therapy? IRG Physical & Hand Therapy has partnered with Luna and is ready to deliver physical therapy to your door with IRG On-Demandclick here to request an appointment or call 425.686.7662 to learn more. It’s time to start your healing journey with IRG and Luna!

Click here to request an appointment with an IRG therapist — Washington is a direct access state that allows patients to self-refer to physical therapy. Call 425.316.8046 to find the clinic nearest you and learn more about starting the journey back to your best self.