George faithfully attended physical therapy for 3 ½ weeks and completed the home program as directed. The pain that brought him to physical therapy dissipated and George comments to Mike that because his pain is gone, he is better and will no longer be coming to physical therapy. Two months later George returns to physical therapy, with the pain worse than before. What happened? Why did his pain return so soon?
There are two stages to physical therapy, pain rehabilitation and physical rehabilitation. Pain is often the product of years of dysfunction and most patients feel when their pain goes away, they are healed and their life can go back to normal, but that is when the physical rehabilitation begins. When Mike does all his measurements—the range of motion, muscle strength, tests, and reflexes—he uses those results along with your pain level to design a treatment plan to not only alleviate your pain, but depending on the problem, to restore muscle imbalances, relieve nerve compression, and improve function.
George returned to physical therapy, regularly attended his appointments, and completed his home program as directed. After three months, George continued his therapy on his own, and at his one month follow up, George continued to make progress.
Is your pain gone after 3 weeks of physical therapy? Great! But remember, there the two stages of physical therapy…pain rehabilitation and physical rehabilitation.
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