By Erin Reidman – CC’s Staff
“Mommy I fix your back”
Mommy, lay down I fix your back.” I smile and oblige, because of course I will gladly lay down on the floor while my three-year-old plays “therapist” on my back. He grabs his little art caddy and follows me into the “treatment room” (aka the living room) and strategically places crayons, flashcards, and chalkboard erasers along my spine. “OK mommy, all better. You don’t need to go to hopital now.” (Not a spelling error, just adorable 3-year-old speech.)
Doctors of Physical Therapy are experts in the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular system and are highly trained to identify dysfunction within these systems. After identifying the impairment through the evaluation process, we then implement individualized interventions and corrective exercises to reset and reinforce the system.
What does this have to do with toddlers playing therapist? Did you know that most of you have direct access to physical therapy and can visit with a PT to address your symptoms first? This is extremely beneficial because it often saves you money by avoiding unnecessary or excessive office visits and services and provides a conservative treatment approach first. PTs are also trained in identifying differential diagnoses and can recognize when referral to another provider is necessary. Let’s use low back pain as an example. You’re an otherwise healthy adult but your weekend warrior activities result in some serious pain, like shooting down the leg I-kind-of-want-to-stay-right-here pain. You think your best option is to head to the walk in. This may end up in expensive imaging, such as an MRI, showing some disc herniations and likely some narrowing within the openings of your spine. You’re now thinking your back is really hurting because you’re seeing this image and it is seriously freaking you out. You think of that messed up MRI every time you bend or twist and now you’re in even more pain because you’re too scared to even move at this point! Is that disc going to blow?! This is a common starting point for the setup of chronic low back pain.
Option B. You once were browsing Facebook during your 72 hour wait at the DOT and came across a post from a PT blog. This post informed you of your rights and responsibility to choose your own health pathway and that physical therapy may be a good option. The PT concludes through the evaluation process that you likely have a posterior disc bulge and some associated muscle spasm. But hey, we can work through this! It was caught it in time and you’re feeling like your old self within a few sessions. This option has saved money and you likely escaped fear avoidance behaviors since you didn’t see that MRI of your gnarly spine. (Did you know research shows that what is seen on MRI or X-ray often has no correlation to pain? More on this in a future post.)
My son already has this figured out. Take a tip from the 3-year-old and take responsibility for your health. Seek out a physical therapist for those weekend warrior hiccups. We as therapists are in a prime position to save you a lot of time, money, and pain! We’d love to see you at CCs Physical Therapy to help guide you back to the best you!
Post Author: Erin Reidman, PT
Erin is a DPT, wife, and mom of two wild boys. When not at work, you can find Erin teaching fitness
classes at the YMCA or daydreaming of the next mountain biking/rock climbing adventure with her main