Are you 50, nearing 50, or older? Did you know orthopedic pain is the leading cause of disability for this age group in the United States and around the world? (“Orthopedic” means a part of the body that moves is not working correctly or is painful, and “disability” means that someone cannot live their fullest life, like work normally, spend time with their family normally, or easily play with their grandchildren.) All of these issues are treatable and even preventable with the help of a qualified physical therapist.

Here are Five Reasons to See a Physical Therapist in 2019

1. You want to age greatly, not just gracefully.

Not every 70-year-old patient I see looks and acts the same. The ones that exercise regularly and include exercise as a lifelong habit look and act about 10-15 years younger than their peers. In the game of life, from a physical therapist’s standpoint, those who are able to move, walk and live freely without disability wins! A physical therapist’s goal is to keep you moving until the very end with good power, good motion, good balance and a high quality of life. Good physical therapy is the key to your overall good health. Please refer to an earlier blog about How to Find a Good PT.

2. You want relief from orthopedic pain. 

In a study published at Life’s Work Physical Therapy, physical therapy was found to be effective in treating all types of pain in all body parts for both new and older injuries. In fact, the patients in the study had more relief from physical therapy than from pain medications! And the best part is physical therapy is not addictive and you can’t overdose on it.

3. You want to get stronger, improve your balance or sports performance as you age.

Physical therapists know how to detect injury, and how normal aging is associated with typical orthopedic problems. Time and “miles” on the body create typical “wear and tear” issues related to aging. Starting in the third decade of life, people lose 5% of their muscle mass per decade if they don’t lift weights to counteract this aging effect. By age 50, we lose 10% of our muscle power if we do not lift weights or do resistance training to maintain our strength! Physical therapists are specially trained to diagnose injury and prescribe exercises appropriate for your age, injury and lifestyle. A physical therapist can assist with strengthening and flexibility to combat the effects of aging.

4. You want to treat or avoid orthopedic injuries.

When it comes to detecting small injuries in the orthopedic system, physical therapists are pros! Those wear and tear injuries like small rotator cuff tears or gluteal weakness are easily found during a thorough physical therapy examination. Identifying orthopedic weaknesses and issues before they become painful is key to injury prevention. In addition, physical therapy helps to not only strengthen or stretch trouble areas but prevent future injuries. Don’t wait until it’s painful, get ahead of your injury.

5. You want to invest in your long-term health.

What’s a healthy, working body worth to you? These days, with increasing insurance costs and more out-of-pocket expenses for patients, we hear patients make poor decisions about spending money on themselves when it comes to physical therapy. If it costs you $500 to $1000 to see a physical therapist who can help prevent or treat a rotator cuff tear, treat early arthritis of the knee to avoid joint replacement, help you run with no pain (or better yet, run faster), or help relieve back pain so you can pick up your grandchild, then it’s worth it! Skip the daily Starbucks, pack your lunches and invest in your health! 

An excellent physical therapist makes all the difference in how you age. Find one that works well with you and keep them on your team. You can usually access a physical therapist directly without going to your doctor first. Research physical therapists in your area or ask a trusted friend/family member for a recommendation. At Life’s Work Physical Therapy, we often see patients referred to us from other patients. Because we take care of very complex and stubborn injuries and have an Annual Physical program, patients who have failed to improve with other treatments or who want preventative care seek us out. Most physical therapists accept insurance but be prepared to pay some out-of-pocket expenses. Remember, you get out of it what you put into it. Physical therapists partner with you to get the results you desire. Your effort is essential in recovery and prevention! Physical therapists love helping people get well, and it only works if you follow the instructions and advice provided by your physical therapist.

To find a good physical therapist in your area, please check out apta.org. For those of you in the Portland area, contact us at 503-295-2585 or info@lifesworkpt.com.

Best of luck for a healthy and happy 2019! 

Sandra Stryker, PT, MPT, COMT, FAAOMPT