A lot of people are nervous when they arrive at their first physical therapy session. You might have heard rumors about PT being "Pain and Torture" and have a false sense of what to expect. Here are some tips to make your first PT session go smoothly.
1. Your first visit is the initial evaluation. The therapist will talk to you about your symptoms, when they began, and how you are feeling now. If you have had surgery, they will ask about your recovery so far. At this visit, the therapist spends time getting to know you and your personal goals for recovery. Take the time to talk about what you are feeling and what you would like to get back to doing.
2. Dress comfortably. Wear clothes you can move around in without restriction. If you are coming for knee pain, they will need to see your knee. Pants will be fine as long as you can pull them up and expose the knee. For your shoulder, a short sleeve or sleeveless shirt should be fine. If you are coming for your back or neck, loose and comfortable clothes might be fine or you might be asked to change into a gown.
3. Remember, you are in control. The therapist’s job is to evaluate your symptoms, develop a plan of care, and use the appropriate treatment techniques. Treatment techniques can include manual therapy (using their hands to mobilize and stretch) and exercise therapy. It is important to remember that you are in control. Be sure to communicate what you are feeling and let your therapist know if an exercise is causing you pain.
Physical therapy is a collaborative effort between the therapist and the patient. You will work together to set reasonable and personal goals so that you can get back to life with as little “Pain and Torture” as possible.
Cynthia York King, DPT
OrthoVirginia/West End Orthopaedic Clinic