While most people don’t have “physical therapy” on their list of annual check-ups, we do see a lot of clients regularly – even when they’re not injured. We often treat people who might notice a slight ache here or there, or maybe they don’t move the way they used to. They begin to think about their future and how they want to live longer, feel great, and be able to keep up with the kids as they age. In order to try to prevent injuries, future back pain, or surgery, many turn to physical therapy as opposed to other forms of pain management like massage, prescription drugs, chiropractic visits, or injections.
WHO CAN BENEFIT
Regular visits to a physical therapist can be very beneficial for just about anyone. But what if you’ve been to therapy in the past, do you need to keep going? Let’s say, for example, you’ve visited a physical therapist for pain in your arm and the pain was completely resolved, there isn’t much of a need to come back in and have your arm looked at annually. However, we often find that patients are rarely 100% healthy in every part of their body. Just because your arm pain has been resolved, the point of a regular check-up is to make sure everything else is functioning correctly and to address other issues before they lead to another major incident. We’ve highlighted a few specific groups of people who can really benefit below.
Athletes can prevent injuries
Most of our preventive athlete clients are looking for ways to keep their bodies functioning in top condition and avoid a future injury. We recommend things like a gait analysis or functional movement screen (FMS) because they allow us to detect potential weaknesses that could lead to an injury later on. If you’re concerned that regular physical therapy checkups could be costly, consider the alternative. Consulting with a physical therapist before training for a marathon is a good idea to avoid a future injury and to learn what your weaknesses are and what you body needs during training. This consultation will cost you considerably less than getting injured, and we often find that even annual visits can prevent injuries. If you come in once and we find a few potential issues, we can give you some exercises to do at home and chances are, you won’t need to return for a follow up visit.
Medicare Coverage & Skilled Maintenance
There has been a longstanding myth that Medicare does not cover services to maintain or manage a person’s current condition when improvement is not possible. This has been a touchy subject for a number of years, but in order to simplify the details, Medicare will cover skilled therapy to restore or improve a condition, to prevent or slowly decline a condition, and to maintain a condition. If you’re not sure whether you or your loved one falls into any of these categories, contact our offices and we can help you determine what your coverage will be. In any case, people who fall into the category of skilled maintenance would benefit greatly from a regular physical therapy checkup.
WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW
Nearly every state, including Michigan, allows you to visit a physical therapist without a referral from your doctor or approval from your insurance company. If you have any questions you can call one of our clinics and have us verify your insurance before you come in. We also offer free consultations where we can talk about your health and see if physical therapy is a good option for you.
When it comes to your health, you know your body better than anyone else. Living with pain or an injury is never fun, so whether it’s in a physical therapist’s office or not, learning new forms of physical activity, and ways to care for your body that are safe and appropriate for you, is the most important thing.
Northern Physical Therapy is helping patients prevent injuries and feel great by relieving back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, and helping those who have suffered sprains and strains through a sports injury. We’re located in the Grand Rapids and Muskegon areas with clinics throughout west Michigan. Click to see the clinic nearest you.