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What Can Physical Therapy Do for You?

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in December of 2021. For the original video go to

Bob: Today we’re going to talk about what can physical therapy do for you? Imagine that two physical therapists talking about physical therapy. I first want to talk about the relationship, Brad, between the primary care physicians and physical therapy. In many cases, you’re going to have a primary care physician, or you might have a nurse practitioner, or you might have a physician’s assistant. They’re going to be looking at you and they may decide, “Hey, you have a problem that could be solved by a physical therapist.” So, they refer you to a physical therapist. Now, what else? You can request this.

Brad: If you have a problem and the doctor prescribes some pain meds and you’re going to leave and think that physical therapy can help you because of something know you, or you know someone else that it helped, feel free to ask, "could I have therapy, or would it be helpful?" Then they’ll say “oh, well, yeah, we can give it a try.” Your insurance will likely cover it if you have Medicare in the United States.

Bob: In some cases, and in some states, you may be able to see a physical therapist directly without referral. That’s not the case under Medicare.

Brad: He’s talking about what we call direct access. You can go right to the therapist, bypass seeing the doctor.

Bob: With some insurances.

Brad: If you just had knee pain and you know it’s arthritis, the doctor is probably just going to prescribe some pain meds or something over the counter that the therapist may give you some exercises and it can be more efficient.

Bob: And by the way, even a chiropractor can refer you to physical therapy, and they have for us before.

Brad: I’ve had that same situation.

Bob: Brad let’s talk about some of the common things, problems, or diagnosis that we see, and we can possibly help you with.

Brad: Right, bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis, any of those "itises."

Bob: Plantar fasciitis, somethings inflamed and we’re going to help you get rid of it. Lymphedema. A lot of people don’t know that, but when you have that swelling in the legs, there’s therapists who are trained in how to get rid of that stuff.

Brad: Specifically, and probably one of the best routes to go because you’re going to learn how to care for yourself.

Bob: Naturally.

Brad: Exactly, maybe using those compression garments. You need to know how to do it properly. It’s a great way that way. Neck or back pain. Whoops, I took yours.

Bob: Go ahead, that’s fine. Neck and back pain. Absolutely, that’s one of the big ones that we’re seeing. Any joint pain or injury. You could have shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle. We cover them all.

Brad: Typically, older people, the knees and the hips are very commonly sore, or the ankles, those weight-bearing joints. Sports injuries, there’s several people who are active in their senior years.

Bob: Pickle ball.

Brad: Exactly, I’ve been to several events where I see people in their sixties, even seventies, that are out running or doing these activities, and they’re going to want to see a therapist oftentimes, to get back into their activity.

Bob: Yeah, also decreased strength or motion. If your strength is not where is should be, or you find out some of your limbs are tight. That often leads to pain, so we want to regain that.

Brad: You may get that from after an illness and you recovered and now, you’re weak. Or you’re starting a new activity and you’ve got pain because it’s like, “oh I got sore because I was gardening for the first time in the spring, and I don’t know why my knee hurts now.” Well, you know why it hurts but you want to get it better. Headaches.

Bob: Oh, especially neck headaches.

Brad: Those lower ones.

Bob: You feel it in the neck, and you feel it in the head.

Brad: If don’t want to take pain pills, or you don’t want to take a lot of over-the-counter pain medications, oftentimes, just some stretching to specific neck muscles can help.

Bob: And posture can make a difference. All right, any joint replacement, if you have a hip replacement, knee replacement, shoulder replacement, elbow, we’re there for you.

Brad: Right. Not only after a surgery, but even before the surgery to get a few visits in so you’re prepared for surgery, and it makes the rehab go much easier. Vertigo.

Bob: People don’t know about that.

Brad: Where you get up from bed and the things are spinning. You do need to see a doctor for that because there’s a couple other things it could be.

Bob: Not a couple, there’s lots of things it could be from. It could be from medication. If they decide that it’s like BPPV, that’s a real combo and that we treat and we have a lot of success with it.

Brad: Typically, the doctors know therapists do this. It’s a simple treatment. That’s usually one visit, sometimes two.

Bob: It’s almost a miracle.

Brad: It is, I’ve had people who are incredibly grateful for that one. Osteoporosis.

Bob: Right, people don’t think that you can improve your bone strength by doing exercises.

Brad: The body will respond.

Bob: Carpal tunnel syndrome. Your wife, right?

Brad: Well, yeah, she had it for several years and was able to manage it through bracing and some exercises. Eventually got to the point where she had the surgery.

Bob: And then a little therapy afterwards, right?

Brad: Yeah. She didn’t listen to me though. No, she did.

Bob: Never does.

Brad: It went very well. She’s very happy.

Bob: After stroke or a traumatic brain injury. I used to work in that area, Brad. For years. We play a large role in that.

Brad: After strokes therapists are very adapt to getting you back into the grove of things.

Bob: After a person has a stroke. You don’t say after stroke.

Brad: Yeah, that’s all. I must work on my English again. Ankle sprains. One of the most common injuries. There are several things that we can do to help you get back on your feet.

Bob: We talked about this already, weakness from surgery, from cancer, from hospitalization. That’s all part of it.

Brad: Sometimes there’s specific things you do not want to do. The therapist can help you around those things and get back to your best activity level. Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, again, after a stroke. A lot of those things, we’re trained on that and work with that.

Bob: Whiplash. I just talked with somebody who sees a lot of people in this area, and she gave us a lot of good advice.

Brad: We had a podcast with her. Which is also on a video. Knee ligament injury and repair.

Bob: Quite often from an athletic injury. You're playing that pickle ball and got a little crazy?

Brad: Exactly.

Bob: Same with muscle tears or cartilage tears, meniscus tears, they can happen. You can see there are a lot of things that we treat.

Brad: Literally head to toe.

Bob: Brad and I think we know a lot. We don’t. Thanks!

Brad: Good luck with everything.

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