With temperatures cooling, leaves starting to change colors, and fall sports in full swing (or at least the 2020 version of fall sports), FLO Physical Therapy & Performance would also like to highlight another annual October event: National Physical Therapy Month.

Many people don’t realize the value that Physical Therapists provide, not just helping you recover from an injury or surgery, but also enhancing the way you move, the way you perform, and the way you live your life. Keep reading to learn some of the reasons that visiting a physical therapist should be your FIRST decision when it comes to managing your health and fitness.

Physical therapists are musculoskeletal experts

Whenever an injury occurs and doesn’t heal quickly most people decide that they should go see their Primary Care Physician or other doctor.  While these professionals are a great resource for a wide range of health concerns, they do not have the EXTENSIVE training in musculoskeletal and neuromuscular anatomy that physical therapists have, particularly Doctors of Physical Therapy. In fact, some research indicates that other than orthopedic surgeons, PT’s on average display greater knowledge of how to manage musculoskeletal conditions than physicians.

Physical therapists are movement experts

Most injuries, whether they are acute or chronic, are a result of multiple factors. Physical therapists are well qualified to address any deficits in strength, mobility, cardiovascular endurance, and overall health and wellness. Where physical therapists really shine, however, is in diagnosing and correcting movement impairments. Regardless of whether they are working with young athletes, busy professionals, or aging adults, PT’s can spot inefficient movement and help their clients improve their technique, safety, and performance.

Physical therapists can help you save time and money in the long run

The typical course of care following an injury involves multiple doctor’s appointments and costly tests before physical therapy is recommended. Often by the time people see a physical therapist their condition has become chronic, which leads to longer recovery times, more money being spent, and a lower chance of a full recovery. By seeing a PT first, and even before an injury ever occurs, people can begin addressing the true cause of their limitations and returning to full function earlier. Not only that, but early assessment by a PT can reduce the total cost of care by 50%!

Physical therapists are almost as accurate as MRI’s (and MUCH cheaper)

Speaking of money, MRI’s are a significant reason that the cost of care is higher if a physical therapist isn’t seen first. According to a 2015 Health Services Research study, the average cost of care was almost $5,000 more if patients had an MRI prior to seeing a physical therapist. This also may be unnecessary, as studies show that compared to MRI results PT’s can accurately diagnose injuries 75% of the time, compared to 80% for orthopedic surgeons. This means that physical therapists are not only good at managing musculoskeletal conditions, they are also proficient at diagnosing them in the first place.

Physical therapists get to know you, not just your symptoms

No other health care professional spends as much time with their clients as physical therapists (especially ones that work in a one-on-one, private-pay setting). Beginning with the initial evaluation PT’s have the luxury of spending a full hour not only assessing your condition, but also learning about your job, your hobbies, your family, and more. This relationship continues over multiple visits as your therapist works to get you back to the activities you love. Compare that to the long wait times and 5-10 minute assessments when visiting a doctor and it’s easy to see why visiting a physical therapist might be the best healthcare decision you could make.