Should Ask Questions

1. Should I go to physical therapy? I did not have surgery or a serious injury, how would physical therapy benefit me?

It is commonly accepted that people should see their doctor at least once a year as preventative medicine. It is called a yearly physical. However, it is not so common for people to think of going to physical therapy once a year, though it should be.

No doubt, people would benefit from a yearly screening by their physical therapist and perhaps one or two follow-up visits to get the prescribed home program or patient education found necessary from that screening. Much like your other doctors, a physical therapist is a skilled, licensed healthcare professional.

In fact, physical therapy is now a 6-year Doctorate program. A physical therapist’s focus and expertise are on your body’s movement systems. Our goal is to restore or maintain your strength, mobility, and function.

I cannot tell you how many times patients come to my office and during treatments say, “If I knew this information before, I wouldn’t be in this situation now!” Or how many times I have heard, “They should be teaching this stuff at school!”

Well, it is true, they should be teaching ‘this stuff’ at school. If schools and parents taught and practiced proper posture and body mechanics along with some simple daily exercises; a lot of PT clinics today would not exist, simply because they were not needed.

A little really does go along way when it comes to the health of the body! It is the accumulation of bad postural habits, muscular imbalances, and weaknesses, combined with lack of proper exercise that truly results in so many of the degenerative diseases of the musculo-skeletal system.

Additionally, so many people are injured when they are young and can compensate for the pain or injury, yet they never really treat the dysfunction. It ends up being these layers of compensation that result in disc bulges, back or neck pain, and joint injuries.

But, there is something you can do to prevent or lessen the severity of these physical ailments. Get an assessment from a qualified physical therapist that is trained to look at the body in its entirety. Get a screening of your muscle strength, muscular balance and function, functional movement patterns, posture, flexibility, and walking pattern.

Have that physical therapist instruct you on improving your office ergonomics and help you with your work set up to support your spine and joints. Get a short home program that best suits your needs to get you and keep you aligned and healthy!

We provide this service at Integrative Physical Therapy (IPT) and our patients even get it covered by their insurance company if they get a prescription from their physician. Often after our patients have learned so much from their physical therapy rehab at IPT, they then bring their children or have their spouse come even if they do not have a problem. The best remedy is prevention!

To learn more about Integrative Physical Therapy (IPT) or the type of physical therapy practice that can best serve you, go to

2. What should I look for when choosing a physical therapy clinic? How do I know which PT office is best?

It really is worth taking a little time and doing a little investigating when choosing a physical therapy clinic. Truly speaking, not all PT clinics or clinicians are the same and there are great differences in how practices run. Even when physical therapy is covered by insurance, it often has relatively costly copay expenses included. Make your money and time count and spend both wisely!

For example, some PT clinics schedule patients every 20 or 30 minutes and have more overlap of their patients, so that they are seeing 2-3 at one time. Some clinics say they schedule every 30 minutes, but what they do not tell you is that they will double book patients on occasion. I have heard physical therapists try to justify double booking or overlapping patients by saying if the patient is mostly doing exercise then we will double book.

However, at Integrative Physical Therapy (IPT), we believe even during exercise, the therapist should be working one on one with the patient. The therapist should be using their hands to guide the appropriate movement and ensure the proper form.

The human body looks for the path of least resistance, the least energy expenditure. However, this path may not be what is best for it, or the proper movement strategy to protect the body. Often, we move habitually, and often we have bad habits! So, when I see PT clinics working as a big gym and patients are left on their own to do an exercise, it concerns me. Patients could be doing the exercise incorrectly or in a poor position and reinforcing the injury pattern as opposed to the healing re-education that needs to occur.

So, even if your doctor refers you to a clinic, it may not be the best clinic for you!

Go and see the physical therapy practice. Is there a large space or gym where patients are working on their own? Do you see a therapist working with one patient and talking across the room to other patients? Or worse, are they talking through a curtain to another patient?

Call the physical therapy practice and ask them what makes them different?

  • Ask how often they schedule patients and ask them to answer honestly if they EVER double book!
  • Ask the clinic what their policy is for working one on one with patients?
  • Ask the clinic if they are a manual therapy clinic?
  • Ask about how much time is allocated to one on one hands-on treatment?
  • Ask what kind of manual therapy or hands-on techniques are utilized at that clinic?
  • Ask if there are private rooms, or curtain areas, or large open spaces? (Honestly, who wouldn’t want their own private room?)
  • Ask if the clinic has any specialty or specialized expertise?

Visit the clinic’s website. Does it give you valuable information and answers to how the practice works? Does it point to that clinic is a leader in the field? Does it stress that they work one on one, give longer treatment sessions, and use manual therapy as the basis of their approach?

The typical PT clinic runs more like a large gym or production line. I have heard people say they were left in a room on a hot pack for a long time, and then a therapist came in and told them to do an exercise and left them to do it on their own. If this is at all what you experience at a PT clinic, don’t stay there!

At Integrative Physical Therapy, (IPT) we see many people who didn’t get better at other clinics. We often hear from these patients that IPT’s therapy is so different and so much better and more thorough. Our patients are often frustrated that they did not know about us sooner or that their doctor sent them somewhere else where they spent so much time and money. So do yourself a favor and choose your physical therapy carefully.