What If Physical Therapy Didn’t Work For Me?


While our goal at Symmetry is that every patient leaves the clinic after treatment feeling better, we know that in some cases, individuals are on the fence about making an appointment because they have had a bad experience with PT in the past. Here are some of the more common reasons this might happen, along with reasons you owe it to yourself to try physical therapy again:

Your therapist might not have been a good fit. It’s important to have a good relationship with your physical therapist. You need to not only feel that he or she is knowledgeable about treating your condition, but also that your PT is listening to you and working collaboratively with you to achieve your goals. Finding a “good fit” in personality and communication style can increase the effectiveness of care. In addition, every therapist develops in clinical practice in unique ways – much as an athlete develops global skills within a sport, but may become particularly strong in one position. It is likely that each therapist has a special area of interest and preferred treatment methods. At Symmetry, we are each orthopedic and manual therapy experts, focusing our clinical practice on the hands-on care and specific activity prescription that is known to be effective for the management of musculoskeletal mobility problems and a broad variety of pain syndromes. And, while we have similar and complimentary styles, we each bring a slightly different angle to our practice. If you have previously been to a PT that you feel you didn’t connect with well, consider trying another practice or therapist.

Your condition may have evolved. Even in a matter of days, your body changes after an injury. You may have seen a therapist originally when your injury was acute, and although it may have improved, you may still be experiencing nagging discomfort that just won’t go away. If you return to see a PT weeks, months or even years after the initial impairment has calmed, a clinician may be better able to assess and address the underlying factors of your original injury or pain. Additionally, a therapist seeing a patient with more chronic symptoms will also deal with compensatory issues that have likely developed if your original injury never quite resolved. Every person and injury is different, so going back in to be reexamined could be the first step on your road to full recovery.

You may not have been correctly executing your at-home exercise regimen. Patients generally leave a physical therapy appointment with a set of exercises to do at home to complement what was accomplished in the clinic. If you do not do these correctly, or, for whatever reason, don’t do them at all, you may halt your progress. Although some rest is likely part of your treatment plan, consistent physical activity, under the guidance of a trained professional, is critical to repairing muscle and tissue optimally.

You may have expected to experience no pain nor discomfort. PTs do their very best to make the therapy experience as comfortable as possible, but patients may experience some discomfort as an injury is being assessed and treated – at least initially. Injured tissues need controlled movement and targeted exercise to heal, and they often need to be challenged to help recover the strength they once had. Manual therapy applied to correct faulty movement patterns and to reorganize tissue may feel less like a trip to the spa and more like a deep tissue massage. Resisted exercise may result in a degree of soreness temporarily post-treatment. Every attempt will be made to make adaptations to exercises and accommodations to ease pain, and we rely on our patients reports of symptoms and soreness to ensure that a treatment plan is as free of discomfort as possible. Our goal is that overall, our patients feel better each time that they leave our clinic and can appreciate that the interventions applied have resulted in a measurable gain in function.

We hope you will give PT another try. Give us a call at (512) 339-1500 to schedule a time to come in and see us!