Reset Yourself: 22 reasons to visit a Physical Therapist in 2022

(This article was published in the Austin American-Statesman on Jan 24th, 2022.  It was submitted via the USA Today Network by Dr. Virginia Reed, a physical therapist practicing in Fort Myers, Florida.)

The pandemic threw off our health and wellness routines.  People changed their diets.  They broke fitness habits.  They skipped “non-essential” doctor’s appointments.  The last point is especially perplexing.  Skipping doctor’s visits to stay safe from COVID-19 has exposed individuals to other health risks.  That’s because early diagnosis and treatment are always the most effective ways to jumpstart recovery.  Many medical conditions – including musculoskeletal issues such as back or neck pain, rotator cuff tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, dizziness, balance disorders, fibromyalgia and more – do not resolve themselves without intervention.  In fact, they can worsen over time.  Physical therapists can help patients resolve balance issues, enhance mobility, and relieve chronic pain.  They can also help patients and athletes achieve peak physical performance.  (Peak performance for each individual is different.  For many, it may mean managing their typical family lifestyle or work functions.  For others, it may mean being able to perform a particular specialized activity – from woodworking or gardening to a variety of athletic pursuits.)  With the New Year just beginning, it’s time to press the reset button in 2022.  Here are 22 reasons to visit a physical therapist this year…

Resolve Balance Issues

One in four seniors fall each year.  Falls are the leading cause of injury and even death for Americans aged 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  You should consider consulting a physical therapist if you:

  • Have previously fallen – especially if you have been injured in a fall.
  • Limit activities because you fear falling.
  • Sway or shuffle your feet when walking.
  • Grab onto objects for support, like handrails, shopping carts, or furniture.
  • Have vision or hearing problems, arthritis, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or other illnesses that affect balance.
  • Suffer from motion sickness in vehicles, trains, elevators, or boats.
  • Take prescription medications that cause dizziness or fatigue.

Enhance Mobility

Movement is medicine.  Physical therapists are movement experts who help patients to efficiently and safely go about their daily routines.  Consult a physical therapist if you have:

  • Weakness in your arms or legs.
  • Stiffness or general lack of flexibility.
  • Loss of endurance or persistent feelings of fatigue.
  • Restrictive or painful range of movement in your arms, legs, back, or neck.

Relieve Chronic Pain

A study from the National Center for Health Statistics found that 20.4% of adults reported chronic pain within the last 3 months.  Pain and aches are often associated with aging, but they do NOT have to be a fact of life.  You should consider a physical therapy consult if you have:

  • An old injury that still causes pain.
  • Wrist or forearm pain while typing or performing tasks like opening jars or grasping tools.
  • Neck pain when working on a computer or digital device.
  • Shoulder pain or neck stiffness while sleeping or after waking.
  • Knee pain while walking or going from sitting to standing.
  • Back pain while sitting, standing, or walking.
  • Pain while driving for long periods of time.
  • Pain that limits life, work, or recreational activities.

Achieve Peak Performance

With the New Year upon us, many people have made New Year’s resolutions pertaining to their health, wellness, or fitness.  Most fitness-related injuries are a consequence of overuse, lack of rest, improper warm-up, or poor conditioning.  Consult a physical therapist if you:

  • Have questions about proper form, technique, or advancements about a new exercise or training program.
  • Start a new sport or physical hobby, such as triathlons, marathons, or hiking.
  • Want to improve your swing relating to tennis, pickle ball, or golf.

Additionally, there are potential financial benefits to seeing a physical therapist.  Physical therapy is certainly more affordable than a trip to the emergency room or urgent care center.  So seeing a physical therapist before a nagging pain gets severe or to prevent injury or illness before it occurs is likely to be an overall cost-saver.  Health insurance also typically covers some or most of the costs associated with physical therapy treatment.

The New Year is a great time to regain control of your health.  The first step to a better you in 2022 may be to schedule that first physical therapy appointment!