In my early 20’s, I lived in Argentina for 2 years. During that time it never occurred to me that I should be seeing a dentist on a regular basis. Growing up my mom would set up my regular dental exams, and I would show up to the dentist office every 6 months. However, after living in Argentina and then on my own through the early part of college, I had definitely fallen out of the habit of attending regular dental exams. I had 8 cavities filled over a 4 week period. Needless to say, I never missed another dental check-up!
The practice of meeting with a trained expert is important in order to learn what we should be doing to keep our bodies in optimal condition! For the most part it has become common practice to see the dentist every 6 months, and to have a physical with a doctor every year. However, most people are not going to see their physical therapist for annual or semi-annual check-ups.
It is often understated how important a physical therapist can be in finding deficiencies in movement, strength, cardiovascular capacity or range of motion that can become detrimental in the future. Physical therapists are experts in movement! That is what they are trained to be. Whether it be identifying compensations or overcoming current limitations, a physical therapist can play a valuable role in keeping you healthy and well.
This is a really common story that I hear in my practice, “Well, my shoulder pain started about 4 years ago while I was doing some over head activities, and I felt a pop in the shoulder. It has been hurting on and off since then. I haven’t done anything besides take advil every now and then, but now I can’t sleep on that side. So, I figured I should finally do something about it.”
I love seeing people with any number of problems going on. It is really fun to diagnose their situation and get them on a path to meet their goals. However, I think about those times when the patient spent nights where they maybe only slept 1-2 hours or days when they missed work all because of their aches and pains in the shoulder.
I think about how that situation would have been different had that person seen their physical therapist every year for a check-up. Maybe it is not something that the patient would go out of their way to seek care for initially, because it is not interfering too much in their life at the start. However, it could be something mentioned and evaluated in an annual check-up. Then that person could be helped to get on an exercise regimen that could help their shoulder or other condition before it evolves into something more complex. That is the value in checking in regularly with your physical therapist.
As the saying goes “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to my teeth I know better than to skip out on my regular teeth cleaning and exam. When it comes to my physical health I know better than to miss out on a chance to be screened, and make sure that I am on the right track to a healthy life.
In the state of Minnesota anyone can see a physical therapist directly without a physician referral. If you would like to schedule an annual check-up with a physical therapist, please click here.
Who Is Your Physical Therapist?