Evaluation and clinical diagnosis are both something which clinicians at Life’s Work Physical Therapy (LWPT) take pride in. Our goal is to be able to provide a window to your health and symptoms, and to target them with effective treatment. The ability of skilled clinicians to diagnose various musculoskeletal disorders has been validated through clinical research, and shown in some cases to be as accurate as imaging (i.e. x-ray or MRI). In most cases, too, conservative therapy is still indicated even if an image shows a musculoskeletal condition is present, making physical therapy a good first option towards figuring out what is going on, and getting the patient on a path towards recovery.
The initial evaluation at LWPT is very thorough, addressing the patient’s past history (i.e. previous injuries/symptoms), current medical history (i.e. conditions which may be related to the symptoms or which could alter the recovery time) and pain patterns. It is also designed to learn more about the patient, including goals and ambitions, and to get an idea of what he/she feels is going on and why it is not improving. The objective examination includes functional movement tests that help break down where the patient may be experiencing issues with daily activities. We do a comprehensive scan of the problematic area, as well as other surrounding regions (for the hip, looking at the knee/ankle/foot, as well as the sacroiliac and lumbar spine regions). The entire first session, all the way through discharge, the patient is an active participant in building a program which fits their needs and what they would like to attain from PT, and the therapist uses their skills to determine the right path to take to meet the patient’s expectations.
For patients presenting with hip pain, the treatment may not only address the hip (i.e. area of pain), but also work on the areas possibly contributing to the hip pain (i.e. poor movement patterns; core weakness; referral of symptoms from another pain source; reduced motion through the ankle… the list goes on!). We have a series of special tests, mostly validated through research, which helps us determine where the root of the problem is. Although the hip may be hurting, it is regionally interdependent on many of the other portions of the body working correctly. If a breakdown occurs along the kinetic chain, the hip may just be the joint that is talking the most, but may not be the true cause for the pain. Therefore, pain is not the only guide of treatment and all other compounding issues must be addressed or recurrence of symptoms is likely to occur again as the patient gets back to their active lifestyle.
Since there are many reasons for the potential cause of each person’s symptoms, each exercise program must be tailored to each individual client because everyone is different. LWPT provides print-outs or e-mails of the personal exercise program that will be modified over the course of treatment, taking into account all areas of the body that are involved in the hip pain. By focusing on the whole body and each individual, the patient will work with their therapist to not only reduce current symptoms, but also reduce the risk of future injury.
If you are experiencing hip pain, set up an appointment with your physical therapist to get you on the proper path towards long-term recovery!