What Does a Physical Therapist Do? Myths Debunked

Physical Therapy

The physical therapy profession entails a lot of different roles, however, some people mistake physical therapist with an occupational therapist.

An occupational therapist evaluates and improves functional abilities due to physical impairment. They help you get back to daily life by going to your house or workplace.

They implement strategies and changes to better improve your day-to-day life.

So what does a physical therapist do?

A physical therapist, in contrast, diagnose and treat injured muscles and tissues. They even help prevent future injuries.

So now that we know the basics, let’s get into the myths.

Myth: A Physical Therapist Is The Same As A Personal Trainer

This is a myth because even though physical therapists provide exercises and stretches to help strengthen injured muscles, they do not watch you do every suggested exercise.

What does a physical therapist do that a personal trainer doesn’t?

During PT, they will assess your pain level for that day and implement a few exercises with increased weights.

The only aspect that is similar to personal training is that they watch you warm up either on a treadmill or bike. They adjust the weights and monitor your progress with exercises such as the cervical and lumbar extension machine, and they give you at-home stretches and tips to reduce stress.

Since you usually only do around three stationary exercises during PT, they don’t monitor as much because the machines used were created to adjust your posture for you.

A personal trainer, on the other hand, watches you stretch, warm-up, exercise, and cool-down. They watch and adjust your posture for every exercise. They aren’t there to treat injuries but to improve physical endurance and strength.

Myth: You Should Only See A Physical Therapist If You Are Injured

This is a common misconception.

Although physical therapist specializes in treating injuries, they also specialize in preventing them.

If you are experiencing any sort of pain, regardless of how minor it may be, it is always recommended to see a professional. Physical therapists will ask you personalized and detailed questions to see what the issue is and what may be causing it.

Pain ranging from mild hand cramps to intense neck pains or headaches should result in you seeing a physical therapist.

Instead of waiting to have a permanently herniated disc in your lower back, you could go to PT and see if there is anything you can do to strengthen your back or ease pain.

Sometimes the fact that you sit at your desk for 8 hours a day might be the cause and they can give you exercises and stretches that you can do while on the job.

Myth: You Can Find Online Tips Instead of Seeing A Physical Therapist

What does a physical therapist do? They give you beneficial and proper suggestions for ways to heal and prevent injuries.

Although you may find some helpful tips online, most advice is flat out wrong.

A physical therapist spends an average of 7 years in school to be able to qualify for permanent jobs. The people that post tips and exercises on blogs or YouTube may have no qualifications.

It is easy to seem like a professional online, however, you will be the one to deal with the consequences if the advice given led to more injury. There are many DIY posts available on the internet, but there is no one supervising this advice.

Another issue with using online tips is self-diagnosis. Many times individuals feel like they know the cause of their problems by searching for the symptoms, but sometimes the symptoms are completely different from the root cause.

For example, someone might search the cause of leg aches and they might get results since as muscle tears or overuse.

However, the root cause might actually be a herniated or bulging disc in your lower back that is causing these pains. But you wouldn’t find that out for sure unless you went to a physical therapist and were looked at properly.

Myth: Physical Therapist Cause Pain

This is a myth that deters potential clients for absolutely no reason.

Let’s remember the question, “what does a physical therapist do?”.

They treat and prevent future injuries, therefore, they will not force you to do exercises and stretches that will hurt you.

Although some exercises might get heavier in weights and will cause you to feel a slight burn, it should not overly hurt. If you are experiencing any sort of pain while performing an exercise or you are sore for too long, let the physical therapist know.

You can not build muscle if you are constantly over-straining it.

The therapist will reduce the weight and offer suggestions to help keep soreness away. By communicating all problems or concerns with a physical therapist, you will both be on the same page and your gradual recovery will be easier.

Myth: You Need A Referral To See A Physical Therapist

Physical therapists have direct access which means that you can legally see a physical therapist without a referral.

The only reason you may need or want a referral is if you had a car accident or injury at work. This type of referral may be needed because of insurance requirements.

So unless you had a car accident or have filed an injury claim at work, you may directly see a physical therapist for any injury or complaint you may have.

But to save yourself the hassle, it is always best to call your insurance company and ask what they recommend. It is better to be fully informed of your options before scheduling an appointment.

Overview: What Does A Physical Therapist Do?

A physical therapist is someone who will help you get back to your normal life and daily activities.

Whether you were in a car accident, you received a sports injury or you don’t have an apparent cause for your pain, a physical therapist is there to help you recover and prevent the pain from occurring.

While some injuries are permanent, the pain doesn’t have to be.

Make an appointment today to figure out what the best strategy is for you. The earlier we catch it, the easier it is to heal.

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