When Physical Therapy DOESN’T Help Back Pain

“I did physical therapy at [insert typical insurance-based clinic name here], but it didn’t help my back pain at all.” This is a response I have heard on multiple Free Phone Consultations over the past week. One in particular with a new patient (we’ll call her Jane), a woman in her 50’s, suffering from chronic back pain. Me: “Can you take me through a typical visit at [insert typical insurance-based clinic name here]? What did those sessions look like?” Jane: “Well, they usually asked me how I was doing, typed something on a computer, then had me ride a bike for 10 minutes. After that, another person, I think a tech or an intern, would take me through the same exercises I was doing at home and at my previous sessions. After the exercises, they would put some heat on my back and tell me to ‘have a great day’.” Me: “Did the therapist do any ‘hands-on’ work?” Jane: “No, not that I can remember. It felt like I was just going through the motions, but my back pain and stiffness was never truly addressed after the initial evaluation. And it wasn’t getting better. I would try to tell my therapist, but he was usually too busy with other patients to really address my problem.” Can you see why Jane wasn’t getting the results that she was hoping for? She was getting “cookie-cutter” physical therapy, where the same or similar exercises and techniques are given to every patient with similar issues. And never changed. Now, I’m not going to get into WHY these clinics treat their patients this way, make their therapists see multiple patients in an hour, or use interns and techs in a way they are not qualified to be used. What I AM going to get into is WHY Jane wasn’t getting better. For most people in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, a major problem is muscular tightness and joint stiffness. For these people, just performing stretching, getting stronger, and getting some heat on their back is simply NOT going to fix their issues. At least, not on their own. In the absence of proper re-evaluation at every visit, soft tissue mobilization to release tightness and muscle spasms you probably don’t even know you have, and manual therapy targeted at improving the way your joints move, these exercises and stretches won’t do much. Not in the long term (in fact, they can even make your pain worse). As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, I have found using both my hands, my eyes, and my ears, in concert with a specialized exercise program (that my patients can do on their own), to listen to my patients problems, reassess their movements, and implement hands-on techniques, is the fastest and most effective way to get them the care they need and the results that will get them back to their active, enjoyable lifestyle, free from back pain. If you have tried Physical Therapy already and are still struggling with back pain, you are not alone! You may have been subject to a system that simply DOESN’T WORK for most people. If you are still having back pain after trying Physical Therapy, and are willing to give it another shot THE RIGHT WAY, give us a call. We would love to hear your story and help you on your way to a long, happy, healthy life! To schedule a call with our team at uImproved PT, click here -> Free Phone Consultation.

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