Using Physical Therapy to Get to the Root Cause of Pain

Today I want to talk about using physical therapy to get to the root cause of your pain. The number one thing that I hear from patients on our evaluation day is that we spend so much more time with them than their doctor. We definitely take what they feel, what they think, and their goals into consideration.

A lot of times nowadays, unfortunately, when they go in for their doctor visits, they might be in the office for seven minutes or less. That’s what I’ve heard in some of the recent research. And sometimes, the doctor isn’t even putting their hands on them to do an actual assessment of their orthopedic problems.

When you come to physical therapy, we are going to look at the whole picture. We understand the structure. We understand old injuries. We understand repetitive injuries and impact injuries and how all of these things can play a part in your current injury. We also understand how we can get you back on track.

We also will assess how you fit into your environment, how your desk setup may work for you, even how your car seat might be affecting the pain that you’re coming in with.

Testing to Determine Your Physical Therapy Needs

Physical therapists are all trained in school on special tests, things that we will do on evaluation day. We will position your body in certain ways, we will resist your body in certain ways. That information can help guide us to the structure that might be injured.

We know that our special tests can only assess to a certain extent. Doctors still believe that MRIs are the gold standard for a lot of conditions.

Our Unique Diagnostic Methods

At Bay Area Physical Therapy, we use diagnostic methods that other clinics don’t have access to. In recent years, we’ve been able to bring in musculoskeletal ultrasound and electrodiagnostics, including nerve conduction studies and electromyography, into our practice.

This has opened up huge new doors for us and for our patients to help us get to the root cause of their pain. Oftentimes, we do our testing in the evaluation, and we have a very good idea of what is going on. But again, we don’t have x-ray vision, and that’s where things like this musculoskeletal ultrasound can really help us look into the body.

With ultrasound, I can see structures of the joints, soft tissues, tendons, ligaments, and I can see if there is any tearing. I can see if there is any tendonitis or bursitis. Then I can give that information to your physical therapist to help customize your program.

How We Use the Results of Our Diagnostic Tests

For example, if you have a tear and we weren’t sure about it before, we might need to modify your treatment and maybe back off on some things to make sure that we’re not flaring anything up. Or we might have to refer you to a physician.

If there’s something like tendinosis, which is a chronic wear and tear on a tendon, we might want to make sure that we incorporate things like instrument-assisted soft tissue techniques. We might even use some cupping. We’re going to change some of your strengthening to include eccentric or lengthening kinds of loading. Those are the known treatments that can help those particular conditions. Without this imaging, we wouldn’t have been able to see that you needed those treatments.

Also, if you have numbness or tingling in an area, we might need to figure out where that is coming from.

  • From your spine?
  • From a disc injury?
  • Could it be an entrapped nerve somewhere down in your arm, or leg?
  • Could it come from your carpal tunnel?

Those are some of the other diagnoses that enable us to really get to the root cause of your pain or problem from day one. It’s all because of this additional diagnostic testing.

Finding Your Root Cause Means Faster Results for You

We want to make sure that we identify the root cause of the problem you’re having as soon as possible. That way, we can quickly customize your program for you.

If you’re interested in our physical therapy services and some of our advanced diagnostic testing to help us get to the root cause of your pain, please call our clinic today to set up a complimentary consultation or evaluation. Call us now at (925) 284-3840

Lauren Masi is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, board-certified clinical specialist and certified athletic trainer. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physiological science from UCLA, a master’s degree in physical therapy from CSU Northridge, and a doctorate from the University of St. Augustine. As owner of Lafayette Physical Therapy and Bay Area Physical Therapy, she has assembled a skilled team to provide highly personalized and effective care. Lauren’s extensive career encompasses expertise in various physical therapy techniques, including Mulligan and Paris methods, myofascial release, and spinal mobilization. Lauren enjoys horseback riding and family time when not treating patients.

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