If you have never been to physical therapy, you may have some questions leading up to your first appointment. What will we do? Should I bring anything with me? Is there anything I can do to make sure we start off on the best path? If you have these questions, you are not alone.
Today, we will discuss how to prepare for your first PT visit. Keep in mind these tips can also be used throughout the course of your PT plan as things progress and change or as new information becomes available.
What to Expect
Your first visit is the initial examination. We will spend the first several minutes talking about what is going on and why you are seeking physical therapy. We will ask some specific questions (see below for tips on how to prepare) to help get a better picture from your perspective before we move into our hands-on examination. This is where we will assess the way you move with certain activities, your strength, range of motion, muscle tone, etc. We will gather some information and then discuss what is causing your pain as well as our plan moving forward.
What to Bring
In PT we will be moving around a lot. Be sure to wear athletic/loose fitting clothing.
If you have a referral from your doctor you should bring this in. This helps to communicate information from your physician to the PT.
If you have had any imaging or testing done, please bring in the written report.
If you are taking medications, it is sometimes helpful to bring in a written list. It is important that we know what medications you are taking as some may impact treatments.
Things to Think About
We will ask a lot of questions to learn more about how your pain is affecting you specifically. Below are some common questions that we ask. Try to spend some time thinking about these questions before your first visit.
What things make your pain worse? (time of day, positions, activities, etc.)
What things make your pain better? (time of day, positions, activities, etc.)
How would you describe your pain? (dull/achy, sharp, burning, tingling, pinching, throbbing etc.)
What are your goals for physical therapy?
The more details you can provide, the better we are able to determine the cause of your pain as well as develop the best plan specifically tailored for you. Keep in mind, you are always welcome to share information as things progress through your treatments.
Getting off to the best start on your first visit allows for your time in physical therapy to be more successful. Spending just a couple of minutes to prepare can make a big difference when you get into the session.
Kaitlin Wensinger, PT, DPT