Given October is National Physical Therapy Month, I wanted to take the time to discuss an important PT topic – a “pillar” in our profession that many people are not familiar with: direct access; hence our push for more education on the topic.
Many of my patients have grown accustom to hearing the phrases “don’t put your pain off” or “make your pain a priority”. The rationale behind these statements, and/or other similar ones, stems from one simple fact: it makes our job easier!
Why might you ask? It makes our job easier because your body heals faster when we correct problems before they progress. Just think - if you took the time to pull that one dandelion out of your garden each week, you likely wouldn’t end up with a garden full of weeds, since the spread of their seeds results in rapid multiplication. Similarly, if you paid the interest off your student loans, the interest wouldn’t compound and you wouldn’t have insurmountable debt (I promise I am not speaking from experience). There are countless examples in everyday life that mimic our bodies and reiterate the same concept: the sooner we address issues in life, the better off we are.
An article recently published by the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine confirms this belief. The article looked at 200 athletes who had sustained a stress fracture in their low back. Patients who initiated physical therapy within the first 10 weeks returned to full activity an average of 25 days quicker than their counterparts who waited until after the 10-week mark (Selhorst et al., 2016). That’s an entire month people!!
Luckily, in Wisconsin, our mission of addressing pain ASAP is very feasible with direct access, which allows patients to be treated by a physical therapist without a physician’s referral. "This allows us to streamline patients’ treatment, which results in a quicker recovery; not to mention a reduced expense. So, call your local ATPSM today, and let us help correct that small ache or pain before it becomes a field full of dandelions!"
Selhorst et al. (June, 2016). Timing of physical therapy referral in adolescent athletes with acute spondylolysis: A Retrospective Chart Review.
Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.