When to see a physical therapist

When to see a physical therapist

Your back has been bothering you for a while now and you’re wondering when to see a physical therapist.  You’ve *tried* to do some stretching, but life always seems to get in the way. You’ve reached out to ask your local mom Facebook group and got about 23 different suggestions, so you’re not quite sure what to do next.

What stretches should you try? 

Do you take ibuprofen and deal with the pain?

Should you go to your PCP? 

Do you give it more time to go away on its own?

If trying to decide which option is best is making your head spin, let’s break it down so you know exactly when to see a physical therapist versus other types of providers.

When to see a doctor

It’s always a good idea to get things checked out by your family physician or sports medicine doc to make sure nothing is broken or seriously injured. This includes:

  • Falls and trauma (Think trips, falls down the stairs, car accidents, etc.)
  • Pain is really bad at night and you can’t seem to fall back asleep
  • No position or movement relieves your pain
  • Pain is associated with eating, drinking or going to the bathroom
  • Your entire limb is completely numb
  • You pee or poo yourself without any conscious awareness or control
  • You pass out or lose consciousness

When to see a chiropractor

While there’s some overlap between the conditions PTs and chiropractors treat, here are some areas chiropractic care can improve:

  • Postural problems
  • Stiff neck and back when you wake up in the morning
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Nagging aches and pains
  • Developmental concerns in children
  • Pregnancy and postpartum-related pain
  • Sore joints
  • Neck and back pain
  • Soreness or pain from a recent fall

When to see a physical therapist

It’s pretty easy to set up an appointment with a PT because you don’t need a referral from a physician. Direct access lets you see your PT right away when an injury creeps up. Pretty cool, huh?! 

If there are no serious medical concerns that you need to see your physician for, it is very appropriate to start with chiropractic or physical therapy care! They’ll assess you to determine what is going on. You may consider calling your PT as a first line of treatment for any of the following:

  • Neck and shoulder tension/tightness
  • Shoulder pain when you reach and lift
  • Soreness and stiffness in your neck and back when you wake up
  • Low back pain when you bend, lift, or twist
  • Nagging aches and pains
  • Back and neck pain from driving, sitting, or working too much
  • Postural problems
  • Tension headaches in the back of your head, forehead, or eyes
  • Foot pain and plantar fasciitis
  • Knee pain with stairs, walking, or running
  • Pelvic pain, pain with sex, and leakage when you laugh, cough, or jump
  • Pregnancy and postpartum-related pain

Most of the time, PTs can quickly and efficiently treat your pain. And if we run into something we can’t fix, we’ll let you know and send you to a physician.

Seeing a physical therapist FIRST for the types of things listed above can actually help you feel better more quickly and save money. It’s a win-win!
Have questions? Contact us to see how we can help.

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Dr. Stephanie Duffey

We Help Motivated Women Feel Physically Amazing So They Can Be Active, Empowered, And Energized Without Frustrating Pain Or Injury.