A patient with low back pain came in the other day. Her pain started a while back and about a month ago, she came to us for treatment. Her back was improving during this time, however, it flared up on her when she tried to exercise. Her frustration at the pain and the new flare up showed. She had a follow-up appointment with her physician who offered more medication to control the pain. She declined this treatment option, as she didn’t see it having a successful outcome.
After my patient’s follow-up appointment with her physician, she came back to see me. She expressed frustration and a sense of not knowing how to proceed. So, during the first 30 minutes of her appointment, we talked about what had happened and devised a plan. We reviewed both her medical and physical therapist diagnoses, did an anatomy review, and talked about who else might be part of the treatment program. We talked about chiropractic, acupuncture, Pilates, visceral mobilization, and how to modify sleeping and sitting positions. We discussed her diet and how that may impact her pain as well. During the last half of her appointment, I did some manual treatment, dry needling, and adjusted her home physical therapy exercise program. She stated she was pleased with our session and felt much better about things now that a plan was in place.
Daily, we see patients who, like this one, need a multidisciplinary team to treat the pain they experience. Physical Therapists have a unique role in the healthcare model. Not only can we evaluate injuries and perform treatments, we have the ability and knowledge to help manage patient’s care. Previously, a patient’s primary care physician may have assisted in this manner, but now with the workloads they have, they may not have the time or ability to work with the musculoskeletal issues many patients experience. Physical Therapists, on the other hand, have the specific training in musculoskeletal issues and also have the ability to assist patients with their care by recommending specialists and other health care professionals. The days of sending a patient back to her primary physician to manage her overall treatment should be over. Communicating with the patient’s primary is essential to keeping the lines of communication open, however, Physical Therapists should be in charge of the patient’s musculoskeletal care.
I consider myself fortunate to be part of a multidisciplinary team. As a Physical Therapist, I feel honored to be able to take care of patients. Therefore, when a patient is not progressing as planned, other specialists and individuals need to be brought into the treatment plan. I believe we can be the ones to help guide patients to the care they need.
As always, please let us know what we can do to help you.
Here is to a healthy body!