Physical Therapist or Physician first?

Do I see my Physical Therapist or my Physician first? That is the question.

The answer is: it depends. Clear as mud right? Let me explain further. First it is good to know what physical therapist treat. Physical therapist treat muscle, joint, brain, and nerve illnesses and injury.

When to go to ER and not the physical therapist

  1. If you are having symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, go to the ER (Emergency Room) immediately
  2. If you have an open wound that is bleeding, go the ER immediately.
  3. If you think you have broken a bone go to the ER or urgent care
  4. Extreme headache that will not go away with elevated blood pressure go to the ER immediately
  5. Sudden muscle weakness or inability to sit up or walk-Go to the ER immediately

When to contact a Physical Therapist

    1. Back or neck pain
    2. Any type of injury or pain that has not gotten better on its own
    3. If the room spins when you lay down or get up
    4. If you want to learn how to PREVENT injury and identify areas of weakness
    5. If you have chronic pain and are ready to get off opiates and do something about it.
    There are many other reasons to see a physician or a physical therapist, but this is just a few examples. Everyone should have a physical therapist like you have a dentist and a primary care doctor. Most states do not require a physical therapist to have a prescription to evaluate a patient. Establishing a relationship with a physical therapist can help you to receive physical therapy early in the healing process so bad habits and neurological adaptations do not occur. When adaptations to an injury occur it can take several months to undo. This saves you time and money.

This article is for education only. This information is not intended to replace the advise or evaluation of a healthcare provider. An evaluation is highly skilled and complex and involves an evaluation of different systems and elements to determine the best approach for each individual. Always follow the instructions of your physical therapist or physician in regards to your personal exercise program.