Not to call you out or anything, but you know who you are. You are the physical therapy client who comes to therapy faithfully each week. Well, you did at first, and now you avoid eye contact with your physical therapist when you see them in public because you know you didn’t make your physical therapy session. Sure, you come once per week, but that isn’t enough if you want pain relief.
Remember the progress you made when you first started? It’s because you kept a consistent schedule that kept you moving and healthy. Your body needs that again,. If you avoid your physical therapy session, you aren’t going to heal as you – and your physician – hope. Come on, come back to a physical therapy session more than once a week.
Why You Need a Physical Therapy Session
You need physical therapy if you:
- You are an athlete
- You do manual labor
- You recently suffered an injury, or you have an old injury
- You have had surgery
- You experience back pain, fatigue, or limited range of motion
- You have trouble standing, walking, running, or sleeping
- You are getting older and you don’t want to succumb to the ails of old age prematurely
- You want to avoid chronic disease
So, as you can see, everyone is a good candidate for physical therapy. If cost is a concern, talk to your physician and your therapist. Spending the time and money on office visits now helps you avoid larger expenses, injuries, and illnesses later on. In fact, this is why COR offers an annual Physical Therapy check-up.
How Many Physical Therapy Sessions Do I Need?
To get the most out of your physical therapy, you need to STICK TO THE SCHEDULE. There is a plan you create with your physical therapist, and they are sticking to it. So should you. For physical therapy to be effective, you need care that considers your needs, your injury, your current health, and your goals. The frequency depends on those factors.
For most, going to physical therapy at least three times per week proved to be the most effective. The frequency can change, however, depending on your needs. Your therapist will determine a schedule for physical therapy sessions and at-home exercises to improve your health, strength, and rehabilitation. You need balance.
Why Coming to Physical Therapy Once Per Week Won’t Work
You know you can benefit from physical therapy, you have had your meeting with Dr. John and his team, and it’s time to commit to the plan so you live a healthier and strong life. Once a week won’t work, and finally, here are the 9 reasons why.
1. It increases your recovery time
When you go to physical therapy, the therapist puts a plan in place to help you recover quickly and safely. The plan considers the number of days required, the exercises you have to complete, and the type of goal you hope to achieve together. It’s a formula, not a guess. The most important part of the plan is your commitment to the process. You can’t improve recovery if you don’t take the appropriate steps to recover.
Physical therapy improves recovery time by:
- Increasing physical activity
- Targeting problem areas
- Prescribing self-care techniques
- Improving mobility
- Maintaining and restoring flexibility and range of motion
2. You Won’t Progress Through the Program
Physical therapy isn’t like a video on YouTube or a workout video you can watch on your television. It is methodical and formulaic so that you progress through the program, not remain stagnant. Physical therapy considers your needs and develops a plan that starts you out small and slowly increases movement and weight to increase the function of muscles, soft tissue, and skeletal system.
3. Your Couch Doesn’t Aid in Healing
Sitting and lying on the couch can provide temporary relief from pain, and it can be a place for much needed rest, but you will need to get up eventually. In fact, sitting on the couch when you should be at physical therapy can cause larger issues than the one you started with. Sitting too much has been called the new smoking.
The Mayo Clinic says that adults who sat on the couch for at least two hours more than others had an increased risk for death, 125% increase in heart-related diseases, and high blood pressure. Sitting also doesn’t promote movement, which is what your muscles and bones need to heal.
4. You Will Turn to Pain Relievers
Physical therapy relieves pain and inflammation. If you don’t show up to your physical therapy sessions for more than one time per week, you will turn to OTC pain relievers instead. Here is the trouble with pain relievers: they stop pain, but they don’t address the problem that is actually causing the pain.
Acetaminophen is one of the most common pain relievers, and if you recently had surgery or an injury, chances are that your doctor has prescribed you a rather large dose to help you manage the pain. It’s even worse if you are self-diagnosing and taking acetaminophen as you feel like it. Acetaminophen is a dangerous drug, contributing to nearly 80,000 ER visits per year. Not only are large doses dangerous, but studies have shown that small, incremental doses overtime are just as dangerous for your liver and organs.
5. You Can End Up on the Operating Table
No one wants to go backwards, but if you don’t stick to your physical therapy session plan, that’s exactly where you will be going. Avoiding your physical therapy session can force you to go under the knife. Surgery the second time around is more traumatic on the body, it can be less successful, recovery time can be longer, and it can take a financial toll on your family.
Non-maternal and non-neonatal surgeries cost Americans more than $340 billion in 2012. A few of the top surgeries and their costs in America are:
- Arthroplasty knee – cost is between $16,000 and $62,000 depending on your place of residence
- Laminectomy– average cost is about $77,000.
- Hip replacement – cost is between $30,000 and $45,000.
Spinal fusion average cost is about $115,000.
6. Your Back Pain Will Get Worse
Most Americans live with back pain on a daily basis, and you are one of them. The American Chiropractic Academy reports that 31 million Americans suffer from low back pain, and send at least $50 billion per year to address the pain and discomfort. For many people like you, back pain is why they ended up in physical therapy in the first place. One session a week isn’t enough to address, alleviate, and avoid back pain which you’ve had for 20 years!
Physical therapy involves a detailed analysis of the root cause, a systematic plan to decrease pain, and a progressive program for return to function. At the same time, movement re-training and education occur.The goal is to address poor resting positions, to strengthen the muscles and the core, and to address impairments that cause weakness and pain. Physical therapy low back pain solution cannot be achieved in a single physical therapy session. It is a progression that requires careful and skillful monitoring.
7. No One Can Monitor You
I am a fan of YouTube. I use it all the time, BUT you cannot find relief in videos that don’t target your specific needs. Sure, you can string a few together to create what you think is a “good plan,” but you may be doing more harm than good, or you could be avoiding your problem altogether without even realizing it. When you attend physical therapy once per week, there is no one to professionally monitor WHAT it is you are doing, and most importantly WHY you are doing it.
Everyone is different and requires an individual plan, that’s why there are so many “Low Back Pain Solutions” online.
Poor form, unmonitored progression, and/or no follow up at all can all contribute to bigger problems. Or worst of all, you won’t get any better. It is better to get the care and attention you need in the scheduled and planned amount of time so that you can recover better and so you have someone else who can hold you accountable in your recovery.
Conclusion: Advice from Dr. John
In closing this, this is my takeaway: don’t fear your physical therapy session. Will it be challenging? Yes. Will it require a commitment on your part? Yes. Will it be worth it and save you money and pain in the long run? Absolutely. Once you make physical therapy a habit and you begin to feel better, you forget the excuses that once prevented you from showing up in the first place.
Remember, the toughest part is movement re-training. If you have pain, it is signalling something is wrong. If you keep moving into pain, you are simply throwing more pieces of wood into the fire, your injury. Instead, avoid pain, and starve your injury of firewood!