What to Do When Physical Therapy Doesn't Work

If physical therapy isn't working for you, there are other options available. Learn more about what you can do when traditional physical therapy doesn't work.

What to Do When Physical Therapy Doesn't Work

If you've been involved in physical therapy for two weeks and there's been no change in the area of pain or discomfort, it may be time to seek a doctor's referral. It's important that both the patient and the physical therapist are doing their part to make progress. If you're not seeing results during or between sessions, it's time to discuss other options. It's important for a physical therapist to be competent and confident enough to tell you when physical therapy isn't working.You should know if your therapist is concerned or if treatment isn't progressing as expected.

Likewise, your therapist should know if you're not getting the results you're hoping for. A strong alliance between patient and therapist is essential for making progress. If you didn't communicate your concerns about lack of progress until the last day of physical therapy, the lack of communication is to blame.It's understandable that you may have wanted to avoid any pain or discomfort during physical therapy. Physical therapists do their best to make the experience as comfortable as possible, but some discomfort may be experienced as an injury is evaluated and treated.

Injured tissues need controlled movements and specific exercises to heal, and they often need to be touched to help regain strength. Manual therapy used to correct faulty movement patterns and reorganize tissue may feel more like a deep-tissue massage than a trip to the spa.It's normal for some temporary pain to be felt after treatment due to resistance to exercise. Every effort will be made to adapt exercises and adaptations to reduce pain, and therapists rely on patient reports about symptoms and pain to ensure that the treatment plan is as pain-free as possible. The goal is that patients should feel better every time they leave the clinic and can appreciate that interventions have resulted in measurable functional gain.One of the most significant changes in physical therapy is overcrowding of clinics due to decreasing reimbursements from insurance companies.

This means that patients rarely spend time with their therapist, and treatment sessions consist of repetitive sets of exercises that can usually be done at home or at the gym. If you manage to spend time alone with your therapist, it's often a quick 20-minute session. The rest of the time, your therapist is usually held hostage by a computer due to documentation requirements, leaving you alone doing all those exercises.Every therapist has a unique educational background, especially if they've chosen additional education or certification in specialized treatment methods. While physical therapists are trained to create a plan for each patient's recovery, for physical therapy to work, the patient must follow that plan.

While physical therapy can't “fix everything”, lack of communication between therapist and patient is often responsible for physical therapy failure.Physical therapy has its roots thousands of years ago, but one barrier to getting people into physical therapy is that they've had it before and feel like it didn't work or help. Patients usually leave a physical therapy appointment with a series of exercises to do at home. If you weren't asked directly and in detail what you wanted from successful treatment when starting physical therapy, then this isn't a failed treatment but rather a lack of understanding between patient and therapist. Physical therapy isn't just general exercises or ultrasounds; at least it shouldn't be.Conservative care is recommended which includes pain medication, education, exercise modification, manual therapy, and physical activity under the supervision of a primary care doctor or physical therapist.

With OneStep's mobile app-based digital physiotherapy platform, these common obstacles can be addressed.So what can you do if you don't want medical procedures or surgery but “physical therapy” didn't work? It's important to remember that communication between patient and therapist is key for successful physical therapy outcomes.