In most cases, treatment can begin right after the physical therapist's initial evaluation. Generally, you should attend physical therapy until you reach your goals or until you and your therapist decide that your condition requires re-evaluation. It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks for soft tissues to heal, so the course of physiotherapy can last about that long. If you have a serious condition or a condition that progressively worsens, the rehabilitation cycle may take longer.
Visiting a physical therapist for the first time can be intimidating, but if you come with an open mind and are willing to put in the effort, it should be a rewarding experience. Every year, more than 300 million people see a physical therapist to help them manage pain, improve mobility and avoid surgery. It's important to understand that all physical therapists (and other health professionals) practice their profession within the strict limits of insurance regulations. It's a good idea to start establishing good habits early on, and that includes knowing what clothes to wear to go to physical therapy.
To help break the ice and ensure that your first physical therapy session is a success, it's important to ask your physical therapist questions such as “how long does a physical therapy session last” and “who will take care of me”. This will allow the physical therapist to modify your treatment plan so that you can continue to make progress. However, if a specific exercise is causing you a lot of pain, pause and discuss it with your physical therapist. Your physical therapist will work closely with you and your healthcare team to understand your needs and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
It's important to contact your physical therapist during these sessions to let them know if you're feeling pain, discomfort, improvement, or if you have any questions. If your physical therapist doesn't specialize in your condition, it doesn't mean they're not qualified to treat it. These tests will help your physical therapist to thoroughly understand your concerns, symptoms, and abilities, and to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that meets your goals. Make sure you follow the plan to the letter: most of the work and results of physical therapy come from the work you do at home.
This is followed by a physical exam to determine your range of motion, strength, and other factors related to your condition. However, if you've never attended physical therapy before, it's not uncommon to feel a little intimidated before your first visit and have a lot of questions about what to expect and how long it will take for you to get better. The best way to know if you qualify to see a physical therapist without a referral, as well as to learn about the services covered by your health insurance, is to contact your physical therapist directly.