What Happens When Physical Therapy Doesn’t Work

What Happens When Physical Therapy Doesn't Work

If physical therapy does not work for you, undergo advanced imaging tests for proper diagnosis and visit a specialist for further examination and treatment.

Physical therapy, also referred to as physiotherapy, is a health technique involving the use of physical approaches to restore, promote, and maintain well-being. Physical therapy is widely effective in relieving pain, enhancing physical function, and preventing future injuries. The therapy is provided by physical therapists who improve well-being by providing hands-on care, prescribing exercise, and conducting patient education. Nevertheless, physical therapy may fail to work in some instances due to various reasons. When this happens, medical practitioners recommend undergoing additional imaging tests and looking for other treatment methods to manage your ailment—alternative approaches to physical therapy include pharmacological medications and surgery.

Physical Therapist Roles

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, a physical therapist is a licensed health professional who helps individuals live healthy and active lives. A physiotherapist can diagnose issues by performing physical examinations and imaging tests. They will also review the patient’s medical history and conduct an interview that allows them to determine what is wrong. Moreover, a physical therapist provides treatment for various ailments. The treatment encompasses various therapies, including massages, guided stretches, and warm therapy.

Like other healthcare professionals, physical therapists create personalized treatment plans that address the unique needs of different patients. The treatment is usually based on an individual’s injury, orthopedic structure, and medical conditions. It must also align with the patient’s needs, whether it is reducing pain, preventing long-term disability, or restoring limb function. Physical therapists also provide patient education. Patient education by a therapist helps patients understand issues affecting them. Moreover, it promotes adherence and compliance to the offered treatment plan.

Reasons Why Physical Therapy Fails

Severe Injury

Physical therapy tends to fail if the injury in question is severe. A serious injury, such as a dislocated joint or a broken bone, that causes burning, electrical, or sharp pain is usually difficult to treat with physical therapy. This is because touching or adjusting the affected area leads to too much pain. Severe injuries should be treated with other methods first before adopting physiotherapy to relieve pain and enhance healing.

Poor Compliance with Therapy Plan

Poor compliance with a personalized physiotherapy treatment plan is a recipe for failure. A non-compliant patient deliberately refuses to follow the provided treatment recommendations. Lack of compliance with the treatment plan can make physical therapy fail, rendering it challenging to recover from injury and illness. In addition, the lack of compliance can result in other severe problems like excess pain and immobility. Thus, complying with the treatment plan by doing everything the treating medical practitioner instructs is recommended to achieve the best results.

Poor Communication Between Patient and Therapist

Lack of communication between the patient and therapist is another cause notorious for making physical therapy treatment ineffective. Poor communication can result from language barriers, negative attitudes from patients, family interference, and discriminatory attitudes by nurses. This often leads to several adverse outcomes, including receiving the wrong treatment and decreased adherence. Lack of communication may also force patients to make poor decisions that may adversely affect recovery and overall health. Regular communication with your therapist throughout treatment is critical to making physiotherapy effective.

Poorly Planned or Executed Therapy Program

Poorly designed or executed physical therapy programs are bound to fail. A poorly planned therapy program that does not take into account the patient’s current needs, medical history, and past treatment is more likely to generate undesired outcomes. In relation, a sufficiently planned but poorly executed therapy plan will also fail. Poor implementation caused by lack of time, poor adherence to the plan, and lack of support from the treating doctor can lead to the failure of a therapy program. Overall, proper planning and execution of a physical therapy program is essential for making things work.

A Substandard Quality of Care Plan

A substandard care plan is another known culprit for making physical therapy ineffective. Basically, substandard care happens when the physical therapist fails to abide by the recommended care standards while treating a patient. Substandard care might constitute misdiagnoses, prescription errors, treatment complications, and poor follow-up. If the physical care you receive is not at par with the industry standards, you will likely experience slow or poor recovery. Selecting a new, qualified physical therapist is vital to receiving standard care that will work effectively.

Inadequate Resources for Proper Treatment

Lack of enough resources for proper treatment can give rise to physical therapy failure. For instance, a short supply of physical therapy equipment, such as lumbar traction devices and inversion tables, can limit physiotherapy procedures. Poor communication and documentation resources in a facility can also lead to the provision of poor, inconsistent care. On the other hand, a lack of therapy staff and other human resources can adversely affect the quality of care. Adequate resources facilitate physical therapy treatments, leading to more success.

Application of Inappropriate Physical Therapy Treatments

Physical therapy includes many treatment methods, including traction, massage, and acupuncture. Nevertheless, employing inappropriate physical therapy techniques for a specific issue can yield unwanted results. The application of poor techniques can not only prevent healing but also cause pain. Generally, your physical therapist should recommend the most appropriate physical therapy treatments that align with your specific needs. This will result in better recovery outcomes in the shortest time possible.

Uncertain Diagnosis or Poor Evaluation of Injury Severity

Unclear diagnosis, in which the physical therapist does not identify the main issue affecting the patient, frequently makes physiotherapy fail. A wrongly diagnosed patient can receive the wrong treatment, potentially exacerbating the problem instead of promoting recovery. Proportionately, poor assessment of a patient’s injury severity can lead to the application of inappropriate therapies that will not make any improvements. Proper evaluation and correct diagnosis of an injury help select the most fitting treatment methods to encourage healing.

Unrealistic Objectives Set by Therapist and Patient

Setting unclear or unrealistic objectives can make physical therapy treatment fail. This is because engaging in physical therapy without clear goals and expectations can minimize patient motivation and derail recovery. On the other hand, practical goal setting between the physical therapist and patient is essential to rehabilitation. Chatting clear objectives leads to improved healing and enhanced patient satisfaction. It also provides a sense of direction to make tracking the recovery progress easier. Do not forget to set realistic goals during physical therapy to maximize outcomes.

What is Next When Physiotherapy Fails

Undergo Rigorous Tests for Correct Diagnosis

When physical therapy fails, undergoing advanced imaging tests to confirm a diagnosis and determine injury severity is advised. The therapist can perform a computerized tomography (CT) scan, which combines different angles of X-ray images to create cross-sectional visual representations of the affected body parts. They can also do a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to take pictures of bones, muscles, and other structures inside the body. The advanced imaging tests provide a clear visual representation of the affected body parts to help make a more informed diagnosis.

Transfer to Specialists for Advanced Assessment and Treatment

Your physical therapist may also refer you to a specialist for additional evaluation and treatment. The specialist will examine your medical history and perform various tests to identify your ailment. They will also provide the most effective treatment to manage the issue. Referral to a practitioner with more knowledge and experience about your condition guarantees positive results when physical therapy fails.

Try a Chiropractor

Visiting a chiropractor can be beneficial if physical therapy treatment fails for several reasons. Chiropractors specialize in addressing musculoskeletal issues, particularly spinal misalignments, which can contribute to pain and discomfort. If traditional physical therapy doesn’t yield the desired results, chiropractic care offers an alternative approach to alleviate pain and improve mobility. Chiropractors use spinal adjustments and manual manipulation techniques to realign the spine, reduce nerve interference, and promote the body’s natural healing abilities. This complementary approach can provide relief for conditions such as chronic back pain, migraines, and joint issues, offering patients another avenue for effective and personalized care when traditional treatments fall short.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if physical therapy is not working?

You will know physical therapy is not working if you are still experiencing pain and your range of motion has not improved after several appointments. Failure to achieve the set goals and expectations within a specified period is another sign of physical therapy failure. Ensure you talk to your physical therapist for other effective remedies if therapy is not working.

Can I recover without physical therapy?

Your injury can heal without physical therapy, but you will not experience complete recovery. The injury will not heal poorly, leaving you more susceptible to recurring problems and severe pain. Healing from an injury without physiotherapy treatment can also lengthen the recovery time. Always get physical therapy treatment to experience the best recovery results.

How long does it take to know if physical therapy is working?

It takes about two to eight weeks to know if physical therapy treatment is working, depending on the severity of your condition. Your physical therapist should monitor your condition and inform you of your progress. The therapist may need to adjust the therapy if it is not working.

How long should physical therapy last?

A typical physical therapy session lasts between 30 and 90 minutes. The treatment period usually takes 3 to 8 weeks to complete. However, the period varies from patient to patient based on the affected body part and the extent of the issue.

Why is physical therapy not helping?

Physical therapy is not helping if you have a severe injury that is too painful. Lack of compliance with the provided treatment plan and poor communication between the patient and the therapist can make physical therapy fail. Therapy may be unsuccessful if your treatment plan is poorly designed or implemented. Poor diagnosis, in which the practitioner does not accurately discover the primary cause of injury or pain, can also make physical therapy fail. Other reasons that make physical therapy ineffective include setting unclear goals and expectations, inadequate resources, and inappropriate treatment methods.

Is it common to feel worse after physical therapy?

It is common to experience discomfort and soreness after physical therapy. You may also feel fatigued. However, these issues should not cause too much pain. Be sure to consult your physical therapist if the discomfort is excessive.

Does physical therapy work for nerve damage?

Yes, physical therapy is an effective solution for nerve damage. Physical therapy methods, such as traction and massage, can stretch and remove excess pressure from the affected nerve to promote proper healing. The therapy has to be done several times a week to expedite recovery.

Is it normal to feel weak after physical therapy?

Physical therapy can be exhausting, so feeling weak after a session is normal. Knowing how to care for your body after a physical therapy session is important for quick energy recovery. Ensure you get enough rest, drink plenty of water, stretch your body, and eat a healthy, balanced diet for better recovery from physiotherapy.

What is the best alternative to physical therapy?

The best alternative to physical therapy is pharmacological treatment. Using medication is effective in treating the underlying issues and preventing recurrent incidences. Injections to lessen swelling and pain and surgery to correct affected body parts are other alternatives to physical therapy.

How many weeks does it take to recover from physical therapy?

It normally takes 6 to 8 weeks of consistent treatment to recover from physical therapy fully. Nonetheless, the recovery period can be short or longer based on the severity of the issue and the effectiveness of the provided physical therapy treatments.

Is it OK to do physical therapy every day?

No. You should not engage in physical therapy every day. Medical practitioners recommend doing the therapy twice daily for around 2 to 3 days a week. Skipping physical therapy for a few days is critical to helping the body recover and heal faster.

How many times a week should you do physical therapy?

Doing physical therapy 2-3 times per week is best. Your physical therapist may lessen the time as you continue recovering. Ensure you take a few days off to prevent exhaustion and promote quick healing.

Does physical therapy speed up recovery?

Physical therapy can hasten recovery by releasing tension in the affected area and improving blood circulation. The process also reduces pain and enhances mobility. Do not forget that therapy works better and faster when combined with other effective treatment methods.

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