The Case for a Regular Physical Therapy Check-Up

Early in the year, it’s often a period of review, recap, reflection, and resolution. We take inventory, and then plan for the future. This process can apply to multiple facets of life – certainly to include our physical beings. Functioning well physically enables us to productively participate in all aspects of our vocational, social, and recreational lives. So we schedule annual physicals, have our blood work done, consider preventative diagnostics, and so on. In my opinion, having a periodic Physical Therapy ‘check-up’ is another important part of a comprehensive health maintenance plan. Physical Therapy is not just pertinent for injury recovery. Physical therapists are movement experts. Improving movement – even in the absence of injury or disease – can have significant impact on the quality and efficiency of a person’s activity and interaction with their environment. Read on, to consider more about the potential applications of our trade…

At Symmetry, we practice Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy – which is basically the treatment of movement dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system. Movement problems can create pain and injury, but may also simply result in limited activity. Sometimes, we adapt our movements without even being aware of doing so when our joints or muscles stiffen, or when something doesn’t feel ‘right’. We might alter the way we sleep, or avoid steps or inclines, or change the way we reach to objects around the house. Physical Therapy is an appropriate first-course of treatment for disorders of adaptive movements from head to toe. Virtually any structure that either hurts or is too stiff, too weak, or too loose can benefit from our services. This is true whether or not there has been a specific injury, surgery, or other sort of trauma.

Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy involves a combination of movement-based activity and hands-on manipulation of the musculoskeletal system. Depending on the particular patient and condition, hands-on treatment may involve soft-tissue mobilization (something akin to massage, but with more specificity and precision), joint manipulations (from gentle subtle movements to more vigorous ‘thrust’-type interventions), assisted stretching, muscle activation techniques, and so on. Movement activities range from simple to complex – targeting specific regions or more global movement patterns, and ranging from completely unresisted to requiring higher-intensity muscular strength. The prescription of movement activity depends on each patient’s individual situation. Often, after a PT session a patient can tell pretty much immediately whether or not they are functioning better. Pain may be decreased, motion may be better, or walking or another activity pattern may be less tentative or more organized, for example.

The nature of humans is to ‘wait and see if it gets better’ when there is something bothering them. But know that one wonderful thing about the body is that the faster that posture and movement is normalized, the less things hurt and the better things work. Many patients tell us ‘I wish I’d come in sooner’ when they realize that their declining physical function could perhaps have been addressed long ago. After making this realization, they might then come in subsequent to their initial course of care for just a few visits from time to time for a ‘tune-up’, or to ‘get ahead’ of something that doesn’t yet hurt, but doesn’t quite feel ‘right’. We think of this type of follow-up care similarly to how one might go to the dentist twice a year to maintain clean teeth, or like a periodic medical ‘check-up’ with a family practice physician. Our normal ‘life activities’ tend to gradually cause symptoms – from headaches to ankle ‘weakness’ to low back stiffness. An orthopedic PT can help people deal with these issues – and it’s infinitely better to deal with them when they are minor than when they have developed into actual significant injuries – disc bulges, tendon ruptures, etc. It is our opinion that everyone would benefit from having a personal Physical Therapist, just like most folks have a personal physician – to help keep the body in optimal working condition. Symmetry would like to be that Physical Therapy resource!

A beautiful thing about Physical Therapy – either for injury or for the maintenance of health and wellness – is that generally, insurance will cover it. Most of us walk around with some sort of a PT ‘allowance’ on our health plans. Often, we don’t utilize that allowance unless something drastic happens – we’re in a car wreck, for example, or fall off a roof. But most of us also walk around with at least a minor amount of pain, discomfort, or other functional limitation – enough to have caused us to limit something – playing soccer, lifting heavy things, throwing the ball to the dog, etc. We at Symmetry hereby invite you and everyone to make a move to eliminate these nagging problems. Why not utilize that PT ‘allowance’? Wouldn’t it be great to feel like a million bucks? I bet we can help.

If you or anyone that you know has any question about whether or not they are currently a good candidate for Physical Therapy, Symmetry would be happy to help provide answers. We invite you to give us a call to discuss how our services might be of benefit to your particular condition and to potentially schedule a professional movement assessment. Together, we can develop a plan to make your coming year one of optimal physical health!