Written by Jennifer Buono, PT, DPT
Every year we make an appointment with our primary care doctor to have our yearly physical. At the appointment the doctor monitors such things as height, weight, blood pressure, current medications, provides necessary vaccinations and even performs blood tests to monitor our cholesterol levels. These measures are checked in an effort to catch specific medical conditions early so that treatment can be started quickly. Similarly, we go to the dentist twice a year for regular screenings and cleanings to prevent cavities and detect problems in our oral health. So why don’t we have an annual check-up with our physical therapist to assess our overall musculoskeletal health and wellness?
According to a recent report by the United States Bone and Joint Initiative an estimated 126.6 million Americans, or about 1 in 2 adults are affected by musculoskeletal conditions. That number is greater than the number of Americans living with chronic lung or heart conditions. Problems in our musculoskeletal system contribute to chronic pain and loss of function. Poor joint mobility can increase our risk of developing degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis and tendinopathies.
Physical therapists specialize in the examination and treatment of the musculoskeletal system which consists of the bones, joints, muscles and connective tissues that help us move and perform all the activities that we enjoy with ease. An annual visit to a physical therapist could help to identify problems within the system such as weakness, immobility or faulty mechanics which may be contributing to pain or poor movement quality and function. Faulty movement patterns can lead to degenerative changes within the muscles, ligaments and joints. Getting a physical therapy “check-up” helps to identify these impairments early so that an effective treatment plan can be established to help correct the impairments before they become significant problems or lead to degenerative changes that impact your quality of life. During the physical therapy evaluation, the therapist can assess such things as balance, functional strength, aerobic capacity and endurance, pain, movement patterns for activities you regularly perform (lifting, sports, work station set-ups) and flexibility.
While physical therapy is important after an injury has already occured, being proactive and seeking the guidance of a physical therapist before a musculoskeletal issue occurs can help individuals stay more physically active and possibly prevent chronic painful conditions from impacting their quality of life.
If you are trying to start back into a fitness program, or trying to return to a physical activity such as golf, tennis, hiking, biking or running or you are experiencing pain or movement difficulties during your daily routine contact our office to schedule your physical therapy evaluation and get help before a potential injury occurs.