Physical therapy is one of many treatment regiments your doctor may prescribe to relieve pain or to recover from an injury, and it can be a challenging process. Even when the nature of your injury or pain is known, finding the right way to treat it can take time, and it can take even longer for you to see meaningful results. If you feel like physical therapy isn't working, it doesn't mean that the treatment is ineffective, but it is worth exploring why to make sure you're getting the most from your care.
Explore Changing Strategies
The methods physical therapists use to treat patients are very broad, which means that there's plenty to try. It can't all be tried at once, so your physical therapist will usually choose what they think is best and see how it plays out. In the end, however, they rely on your feedback to determine whether the treatment is effective. The first step should always be to communicate to your physical therapist when you feel something isn't working. This will help them change their strategy or treatment plan for you.
Regardless of what method you use, physical therapy does take time, so be sure to give your treatment plan some time before you decide it's ineffective.
Change Your At-Home Regimen
Regardless of what you're in physical therapy for, you'll probably be asked to do some of your exercises at home. This steady exercise is much more effective than only doing treatments at the therapist's office. However, sometimes what you are prescribed may not be a good fit for your schedule; maybe you don't have enough free time, or you can't do what you're asked without assistance. Whatever your reason, it's important you convey this issue to your therapist so you can work on an alternate program. Simply not doing exercises at home can lead to perfectly viable treatments being considered ineffective.
Take some time to go over how much time you have, what your current physical ability is, and what you're willing to do. You may be more likely to do your at-home exercises if you have a part in creating your plan.
Keep A Journal
Because physical therapy is so slow, it can be hard to notice changes over time, which can make it harder for you and your therapist to keep track of what's effective or not. It's possible your therapy is more effective than you think. One way you can keep track is by journaling your experiences. Write about each session you've had, what you did, what you were asked to do at home, and your general pain levels. It can be helpful to look back over time to see how things have changed--or if they've changed at all. Either way, written documentation from your perspective is incredibly valuable for you and your therapist and can provide a better gauge of improvement than simply recalling by memory. Journaling also has other positive health benefits and can be another way of getting you positively involved in your treatment.
Switch Physical Therapists
Sometimes you and your physical therapist simply won't reach the results you want or won't connect in the way you need. This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you or your therapist; sometimes it can take time to find the right fit, just as you might need to try a few times to find the right dentist or psychiatrist. If you've exhausted all other options and things simply aren't working out, it's time to discuss finding a new physical therapist.
You don't have to tell your current therapist any more than you want, but they may be able to recommend a new therapist for you, especially if the new therapist's treatment methods vary or might be a better fit. This isn't something your therapist should take personally, so don't worry; your doctors want a good doctor/patient connection as much as you do. Contact a local office like Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, P.C. if you are looking for a new or better fit physical therapist.