What to Expect from Your First Visit to Physical Therapy

Physical therapy treats a wide variety of aches, pains and ailments. From the young to the elderly, from the active to the post-surgical, physical therapy can aide in pain management and help you move and feel better long-term. If you are post-surgery, physical therapy will more than likely be a part of your recovery. If you aren’t post-surgery but have a chronic condition, are suffering from an illness or injury, or were referred by your doctor, physical therapy can help you achieve your wellness goals.

A skilled physical therapist can help assess your pain and develop a comprehensive treatment plan to help you recover faster and feel better. Your initial appointment will entail a questionnaire, a physical evaluation and then ….

Be prepared to answer questions about your condition like when it began, how it began and how it limits your functional mobility currently. Additionally, start thinking about what makes your condition better or worse. The answers to these questions as well as others will help your physical therapist understand your condition and your lifestyle in order to give you a treatment plan for the most optimal recovery.

 What to Wear:

Although you probably will not be doing any rigorous exercise during your first visit to physical therapy, you should prepare to exert some sort of movement. You will want to dress in comfortable clothing, specifically where you are experiencing pain. If you had surgery on your shoulder or are experiencing shoulder pain, then wearing something that allows the physical therapist access to your shoulder is important. The physical evaluation will help test your strength and mobility so dressing comfortably will be beneficial for both you and your physical therapist.

 The Physical Evaluation:

After your therapist talks to you about your condition, you will have a physical evaluation. This physical evaluation will help your therapist gain a better understanding of the injury, the surgical site or the origin of your pain. Some methods of evaluation include: 

  • Range of Motion
  • Balance
  • Strength
  • Mobility

The therapist will also use palpation, or physical touch, to evaluate you. Where you are experiencing pain may not be where it is stemming from and a skilled physical therapist will be able to know and treat the difference. After your evaluation, your therapist will develop an individualized treatment plan that will gradually transition to a long-term program that fits into your lifestyle and habits. A successful physical therapy program will help you feel better and reach your wellness goals.

Homework: You may be given homework at your first visit. Adhering to these at-home exercises are vital for your treatment plan and will be beneficial towards your long-term wellness goals, as well as preventing future injuries. Your physical therapist is an expert at body movement and will use your physical therapy sessions in conjunction with your homework to teach you how to optimize your body for a pain-free life.

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