Don’t Let Google be Your Physical Therapist
With the advent of Google, WebMD, online research, and holistic home treatments, many people are tempted to diagnose and treat their symptoms at home. There are many physical therapy exercise diagrams available online which can lead those suffering from chronic pain to supply their own solutions to their symptoms. It is tempting to believe that if you are suffering from knee pain, you can simply Google “Knee Pain Exercises”, and you are good to go, right? Not so fast!
What many people don’t realize is that pain in one area could be caused by a problem in another area. During a physical therapy consultation, the physical therapist might conclude that weak ankle muscles are causing knee pain, or that a knee issue is causing back pain. A therapist will prescribe exercises that can strengthen not only the muscles in which you experience pain but also the surrounding areas that help to properly support the joint.
Even if you manage to find the right exercises to address your symptoms, an image or text explanation of a physically therapeutic exercise may not be an effective way to learn to perform the exercise properly. Your physical therapist can not only teach you to do the exercise the way it should be done but can also correct you if you are doing it improperly, much like a personal trainer. Improper execution of an exercise can not only fail to address pain but may actually contribute to new damage.
Google and other online resources are only one-way communication and require you to be honest and aware of your activities and how they affect your body and your symptoms. While you may be searching for ways to alleviate pain, you may also be ignoring the lifestyle activities that are contributing to your pain. A trained physical therapist can begin a dialogue that alerts them to things you may be doing to cause damage or muscle weakness and help you to make the lifestyle changes that will prevent and eliminate pain from your daily activities.
For athletes and runners who are attempting to prevent joint pain and injury, online resources do very little to assess problems with performance and create habits that will keep you healthy and active. Your physical therapist can observe your running or playing style and teach you to avoid bad habits and learn to move in a way that will promote better health and stability. There is no substitution for the type of doctor/patient interaction that allows a therapist to address issues you may not even be aware of and train you to correct them.
There is nothing wrong with using online tools to educate yourself and learn that you may need help with chronic pain, but as with many tools, it is best used in conjunction with consultation with an expert. Rather than assuming that Google will be your solution, take your research with you to a physical therapist and ask how you might be able to use that knowledge to better understand your individual symptoms.
At Move Better, we are dedicated to helping you learn the right way to address your pain and use your research to help you “Move Better”! Contact Move Better Physical Therapy or call us at 434-817-0980 to learn more.