We all experience aches and pains throughout our lifetimes. Pain is often the result of an injury or clear event. Occasionally it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of the pain. Regardless of the scenario, it is common to try to ignore the pain and carry on with life as usual.
However, this strategy can backfire, leaving you with a larger problem that is harder to fix than the one you started with. So, how do you know when you should take the next step and seek help from your physical therapist?
- You experience an ache or sharp pain at rest. If you have pain at rest, or constant pain, it is unlikely that your pain will go away on its own.
- Extreme pain or pain that lasts more than 1-2 weeks. If your pain is severe, you should see your physical therapist or your primary care physician immediately. If your pain has not resolved within 1-2 weeks, your body needs help to heal.
- You feel better with rest but pain returns once activity is resumed. For example, you injured yourself while running and decide to take a few weeks off to rest. If your pain returns or worsens once you return to running, your physical therapist can treat your injury and help you safely return to activity.
- You are moving differently after an injury. This likely means your body is trying to compensate for your injury. We don’t want your body to learn new, faulty movement patterns as a compensation for injury. Seek treatment to heal the injury and address the compensatory patterns.
- Pain is reproducible with a specific movement. If you can say something like, “Every time I raise my arm, it hurts,” you should see your physical therapist. This means that there is a clear problem, and unless you fix the problem, you will need to avoid that movement indefinitely.
The above points are indicators that you have an injury that needs treatment to heal and resolve. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please see your physical therapist for help. The sooner you are treated, the more easily and quickly you will be pain free and back to your normal activities.