Most people who go to physical therapy go because they were referred by a physician. Often the physician writes a prescription for physical therapy. It is common for that prescription to recommend therapy two to three times a week for four weeks. This is standard practice and can vary depending on your diagnosis and if you were referred to therapy after a surgery. While this is standard practice is this how often you should go to physical therapy?
First, let me address some issues with this standard of practice. One main problem with this standard of care is that the prescription is often written by a primary care provider (PCP). Did you know that a PCP has very limited knowledge in the understanding of musculoskeletal anatomy and function? Even most orthopedic specialists are limited to their knowledge of the specific joints they perform surgery on and do not have a comprehensive understanding of how the entire body functions as a unit. Physical therapists are experts in musculoskeletal anatomy and function and can best determine how many times per week and for how long you will require therapy.
The answer to the question ‘how many times should I go to physical therapy?’ is loaded. The number of times you will need physical therapy each week depends on you and your condition. You may want to ask yourself are you committed and willing to put more effort in at home? If you are then you may only need therapy once a week or every other week. Do you need a ‘push’ to perform the exercises or movements instructed to you by your therapist or are you not committed to doing the work at home? If yes, then you would need more visits. Remember, if you are this second person a positive outcome for your problem will be harder to achieve.
Some people may require more hands-on care and need to be seen in-person more frequently. If you have been in pain for awhile you may need to be seen more often until your pain is[RF1] decreased, then less visits as you continue to improve. Don’t forget that even when the pain is gone the body is often weaker than it was and will need more strength which takes time to regain. You might have a chronic condition that will take months or longer to heal from so three visits a week could become cumbersome.
Let’s not forget co-pays, deductibles, or your current financial situation. Maybe you have work or need to watch the kids. Life is busy and as much as you would like to go to your physical therapy appointments three times a week it just is not possible.
A physical therapist can make a professional decision on how often you should be seen for physical therapy. The therapist will use their expertise to determine what would be most beneficial for you to achieve your goals and reach a positive outcome, but as you have just read there are many other factors that will need to be put into account. This is when establishing a good relationship with your therapist is important. At Body Evolution we believe the therapist-patient relationship is team-oriented. We will let you know what we feel is the best strategy to get you feeling better faster, but we know that other factors may not allow for the prescribed plan of care. The beauty is that together we can come up with a plan that works best for you and still have you on the road to recovery.
Hopefully this blog helped to answer your question. If you are considering physical therapy, please contact us. If you are on the fence come in for a FREE Discovery session to see if physical therapy and Body Evolution is right for you.
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.