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What do I need to do before my first physical therapy appointment?
Please wear comfortable, flexible clothing so your physical therapist can fully evaluate your body’s motion and strength properly. Please arrive with any completed forms that were requested prior to your visit. This may also include a physician's referral. In California you may see a physical therapist without a doctor’s up to 45 calendar days or 12 visits, whichever comes first. After whichever comes first, the therapist may continue patient treatment with a patient-signed and dated plan of care that must highlight the patient's consent and show that their physician conducted an in-person examination and evaluation.
What does the first visit entail?
The first visit starts with a conversation to ensure each patient’s unique medical history and symptom behavior is understood. Afterwards, a complete exam is performed to identify the postures, movements, and other contributing factors to the patient’s pain or limitations and to ensure the patient is a proper candidate for physical therapy or if they would also benefit from a consultation from a different healthcare provider. The therapist will then provide treatment that may or may not include hands-on techniques or an explanation of their home exercise program, as patients often benefit from a combination of both. At the conclusion of the visit the physical therapist and patient will agree on the frequency of their visits.
What does each physical therapy visit entail?
The first visit is a longer session where you have a through conversation with the physical therapist before performing a complete physical exam to ensure physical therapy is right for you and that you do or do not require alternative referrals instead of or in conjunction with physical therapy. At the end of the first visit you will discuss the plan of care moving forward including the treatment options that will work best and the home exercise program you will need to perform consistently to achieve best results. Follow up visits are usually shorter visits that start with a short conversation about progress or setbacks followed by hands-on treatment if needed and an updated home exercise program so the patient can improve their control of their symptoms without relying on medication or passive treatment.
Will I feel pain during my physical therapy visits?
Although the goal of physical therapy is to get rid of, reduce, or manage pain, sometimes pain or discomfort may be experienced to properly identify the source of the pain and to determine what helps it feel better. However, the therapist will be careful to ensure pain is minimal and short-lasting with the goal of providing a plan to reduce or get rid of pain over time.
How often will I need physical therapy?
Visit frequency varies from person to person but can range from 1-2 visits every 1-2 weeks lasting up to 3 months. Your physical therapist will perform reassessments to determine the need for progress reports to your physician to ensure you are receiving all appropriate care you deserve.