Can Physical Therapy Make Things Worse? Here’s What You Need to Know

Spread the love

Physical therapy is a type of treatment that aims to help you regain your physical strength and abilities by addressing any pain, discomfort, or mobility issues. If you’re considering undergoing physical therapy, it’s common to have concerns about whether the treatment may worsen your condition instead of improving it.

While physical therapy has many benefits, including reduced pain and improved function, some people do experience negative outcomes from their treatment. This can be due to several factors, such as improper techniques used by the therapist, incorrect diagnosis of the underlying issue, or failure to address any underlying health conditions that may affect recovery.

If you’re planning on starting physical therapy, it’s essential to understand what to expect from the process and how to manage any potential risks. By being informed and proactive in your approach to treatment, you can better ensure positive results from physical therapy and prevent further damage to your body.

“Physical therapy can be an effective way to manage pain and improve functioning, but it’s not without its risks. Understanding these risks and taking steps to mitigate them is crucial to getting the most out of your treatments.”

This article will provide valuable insights into the potential risks associated with physical therapy and tips for minimizing those risks. Keep reading to learn more!

Understanding the Risks of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a commonly used treatment option for people suffering from various injuries or medical conditions. The aim of physical therapy is to promote healing, reduce pain and inflammation, improve mobility, and prevent recurrence of injuries. However, like any other medical intervention, physical therapy carries some risks that patients should be aware of.

Possible Risks of Physical Therapy

While physical therapy is generally considered safe and effective, there are some potential risks associated with this form of treatment. Some of the common risks include:

  • Further injury – if a physical therapist pushes you too hard or if you fail to follow the prescribed exercises correctly, it can lead to additional injuries.
  • Pain and soreness – after starting physical therapy, it’s normal to experience some discomfort and soreness as your body adjusts.
  • Discomfort during treatment – being stretched or pushed in certain ways may cause temporary discomfort during treatment.
  • Infection – while infection is a rare complication of physical therapy, some treatments may put patients at an increased risk of contracting infections, especially if proper hygiene practices aren’t followed.

Minimizing Risks During Physical Therapy

If you’re considering physical therapy as part of your treatment plan, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of experiencing negative side effects. Here’s how:

  • Choose a qualified professional – make sure that you see a licensed and certified physical therapist who has adequate training and experience.
  • Be honest about your symptoms – share your complete medical history and current health status with your therapist so they can design a program that suits your needs.
  • Follow instructions carefully – both verbal and written instructions should be followed precisely to avoid further injury and achieve the desired results from physical therapy.
  • Report any adverse effects – inform your therapist immediately if you experience any pain, discomfort or stay unimproved after treatment sessions.

What to Do If You Experience an Injury During Physical Therapy

If you experience any adverse effect during your physical therapy, such as increased pain, swelling, redness, or sudden weakness, stop immediately contact your therapist. Follow their instruction on how they will Manage the affected area. Your doctor may refer you to another specialist for further testing and diagnosis.

“When patients understand that supervision is required when attempting new exercises within their therapeutic program, they are less likely to injure themselves.”- Dr. Harrison Solomon

Legal Recourse for Injuries Caused by Physical Therapy

In situations where a patient’s injury was caused by the negligence of the physical therapist or faulty equipment’s failure at the clinic, the patient has legal rights to pursue compensation for injuries sustained under medical malpractice law. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who specialized in medical malpractices can help the patient determine whether they have a viable case and what course of action would be best given the facts surrounding their particular situation.

Although rare, negative side effects can occur during physical therapy. Nevertheless, minimizing one’s risks and following proper treatment procedures reduces the chances of more significant occurrences. Always work alongside licensed and certified professionals and report all adverse affects post-treatment.

Signs That Your Physical Therapy Is Not Working

If you’ve been going to physical therapy for some time but feel like it’s making things worse, know that this isn’t uncommon. In fact, a 2017 study published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders revealed that about one-third of patients who underwent PT said they experienced no improvement or even worsening symptoms.

To make sure you are not part of this unfortunate group, here are some signs that your physical therapy is not working:

Worsening Pain or Discomfort

You might experience some discomfort during your first few sessions – which is normal as you are using muscles that may have been inactive for a while. However, if the level of pain or discomfort seems to stay the same or worsens after several sessions, then you should be concerned and try to find out why it is happening.

According to Dr. Kenneth Kiesel, an associate professor at West Virginia University, “Pain that continues or increases beyond its typical recovery timeline can give insight into whether rehab needs reassessed.” Thus, if you find yourself taking over-the-counter medication just to manage the pain after each session, something could be wrong.

No Improvement After Several Sessions

The goal of physical therapy is to help you improve your mobility, strength, and overall quality of life. But if you don’t see any improvements even after several sessions, you need to discuss with your therapist why it’s not working.

Your physical therapist will likely ask you how you measure progress and provide achievable goals based on your condition. If these goals are not met after repeated treatment, you should seriously consider talking to them to express concerns or look for other possible solutions.

Lack of Communication or Understanding with Your Therapist

As with any healthcare professional, good communication is crucial to the success of your treatment. If you feel like your physical therapist isn’t listening or understanding what you’re telling them about your situation, then something’s not right.

“Sometimes patients think that they have to suffer through PT,” says Dr. Kiesel. “But therapy should not hurt and if it does therapists need feedback so they can modify exercises accordingly.”

If after several sessions you still don’t get whatever your therapist is trying to explain or how a certain exercise benefits you, speak up. Let them know that you want a clearer explanation before you commit further. After all, it’s important to trust and communicate well with your therapist for progress to occur.

Feeling Forced or Pressured into Continuing Treatment

If you begin to dread going to therapy because you feel like your therapist doesn’t respect your time or energy, or worse – forces you to keep coming back even though additional visits aren’t helping – then that’s a red flag that you might be wasting your time and money.

A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that patient perceptions were positively linked to increased satisfaction with care, better outcomes, and reduced costs when there was shared decision-making between PTs and their clients. This means that as much as it matters what your doctor says, it also matters whether or not they listen to what you are saying.

The bottom line? Physical therapy can make things better, but it can also make things worse – especially if you miss out on the warning signs. Speak up if you experience any prolonged discomfort or lack of progress; open communication with your healthcare provider will help get you back on track towards healing!

How to Choose a Qualified Physical Therapist

If you have recently suffered from an injury or ailment that requires physical therapy, choosing the right therapist is crucial. A good physical therapist can help alleviate pain and improve your overall mobility and quality of life. However, if the wrong treatment methods are used, physical therapy may actually make things worse for you. Here are some tips on how to choose a qualified physical therapist.

Evaluating a Physical Therapist’s Credentials

The first step in determining whether a physical therapist is qualified for your needs is evaluating their credentials. This means checking their license to practice and making sure they are certified by a recognized organization such as the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. Look up the therapist online and read reviews and ratings from previous clients or patients to determine their reputation. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the therapist’s schooling and experience in the field.

“To practise legally as a physiotherapist in Australia, you must be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia.” -Australia Government Department of Health

It is important to note that you should not choose a physical therapist simply because they have the most convenient location or lowest rate. Make sure to do proper research before committing to a therapist and ensure that their credentials match your specific needs.

Assessing a Physical Therapist’s Experience and Specializations

In addition to having the appropriate credentials, a physical therapist’s level of experience and specializations are also important factors to consider. For instance, if you need rehabilitation for knee pain, you should look for a physical therapist who specializes in joint mobilization and has experience treating knee injuries.

“When selecting a physical therapist, ask about his or her experience in treating your specific condition. Many physical therapists have specific areas of expertise, so look for one who specializes in your condition.” -Mayo Clinic

It is also helpful to find a therapist who has experience working with patients of a similar age or health background as yourself. This can aid in better communication and personalized treatment plans. When choosing a physical therapist, do not hesitate to ask about their past experiences treating patients that are similar to you.

Taking the time to research and select a qualified physical therapist is crucial in achieving successful rehabilitation from injury or pain. Evaluate a therapist’s credentials and experience carefully before committing to ensure optimal results.

Alternative Treatments to Consider Before Physical Therapy

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is a natural, non-invasive alternative treatment that focuses on the musculoskeletal system. It involves manual adjustments of the spine or joints to correct misalignments, relieve pain, and improve overall function.

According to a study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine, chiropractic care can be a safe and effective treatment option for low back pain, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal conditions. The study also found that chiropractic care was associated with higher patient satisfaction compared to traditional medical care.

“By restoring proper alignment and movement in the spine, chiropractic treatments may help alleviate pain and disability and improve mobility.” – Harvard Health

If you’re considering chiropractic care, it’s important to find a licensed and experienced chiropractor who can develop a personalized treatment plan based on your specific condition and needs.


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points along the body’s energy pathways or meridians. This stimulates the body’s natural healing processes and promotes physical and emotional well-being.

A number of studies have shown that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, including low back pain, knee pain, and migraines. Acupuncture is also thought to have a positive effect on mental health, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and improving overall quality of life.

“Several types of research conducted on acupuncture suggest that it can work effectively as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for several medical issues, particularly those related to chronic pain.” – Mayo Clinic

As with any alternative treatment, it’s important to seek out a qualified practitioner who has received appropriate training and certification. Look for someone who is licensed by the state acupuncture board and has experience treating your specific condition.

While physical therapy can be a highly effective treatment option for many conditions, it’s not always the best choice for every patient. Alternative treatments like chiropractic care and acupuncture can provide safe and effective relief for pain and discomfort, while also improving overall function and well-being. By exploring different options and working with your healthcare provider, you can find the approach that works best for you and your unique needs.

Questions to Ask Your Physical Therapist Before Starting Treatment

What Is Your Experience with This Type of Injury or Condition?

When looking for a physical therapist, it is important to ask about their experience in treating your specific injury or condition. Different types of injuries and conditions require different approaches and techniques, so finding a physical therapist that has experience in dealing with your ailment can help ensure the best possible outcome.

Furthermore, experience may not only refer to how long the therapist has been practicing but also if they have received specialized training or certifications related to your specific injury or condition. For example, a physical therapist who specializes in sports medicine would be better equipped to treat an athlete’s injury as opposed to a general practitioner.

“Ask your potential therapist if they have treated anyone with similar symptoms or circumstances in the past. Knowing their experience level will give you confidence in their ability to care for you” -Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy Clinic.

What Will the Treatment Plan Entail?

A treatment plan outlines the steps you and your physical therapist will take to manage your condition and reach your rehabilitation goals. Inquire about what you can expect from the treatment process and what will be involved during each session.

In addition to specific therapies like exercise, manual therapy, and modalities such as ultrasound or electric stimulation, a treatment plan should include clear expectations on goal setting, frequency of visits, length of sessions, and feedback on progress.

It’s crucial that you understand what is included in your treatment plan so you can set realistic expectations and work towards achievable goals with your physical therapist.

“A successful course of physical therapy involves creating an individualized program specifically designed for the patient’s needs. It includes specific exercises, hands-on manual techniques, and other interventions that work to address functional deficits.” -Johns Hopkins Medicine

What Should I Expect During Each Session?

The answer to this question can vary depending on your specific injury or condition. Your therapist should be able to provide a detailed explanation of what you should expect during every session of your treatment plan.

Your physical therapist may use techniques such as stretching, strengthening exercises, manual therapy, heat/cold treatments, traction, ultrasound, iontophoresis/imuran, or electrical stimulation, among others.

Asking about each session’s expected duration, what attire will be appropriate, and if there is any preparation required ensures that you are fully prepared for each appointment. Furthermore, being aware of what to anticipate during each session will make you more comfortable when undergoing the various therapies essential to your rehabilitation journey.

“One significant benefit of physical therapy sessions is the ability to receive one-on-one attention from a licensed practitioner who understands the unique aspects of patient care management and injury recovery” -Village Health Partners Physical Therapy.

What Are the Potential Risks or Side Effects?

Physical therapy typically poses minimal risk, but it’s crucial to learn about potential side effects or risks associated with your treatment plan before beginning. Some treatments may have mild side effects like minor discomfort, soreness, or redness. Understandably, more invasive procedures have an increased likelihood of complications. Therefore, having all information beforehand can put your mind at ease and prepare you better for any eventuality.

It is also important to ask about exercises or positions that could exacerbate your symptoms or worsen your condition in general. Being mindful of these particular risks can help prevent further setbacks in your rehab process.

“Your therapist must give you clear instructions on when and how to perform safe exercises to avoid further injuries” -Core Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Center.
In conclusion, If followed according to the rules mentioned earlier asking questions before initiating physical therapy treatment ensures that you make no errors in your rehab process. It will provide you with all the essential information about how to manage your injury or condition better while also building confidence in your therapist.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Physical Therapy Cause Injury?

Like any medical treatment, physical therapy can cause injury if not done properly. However, the risk of injury is low when performed by a licensed and experienced physical therapist. The therapist will assess your individual needs and limitations to create a safe and effective treatment plan. It is also important to communicate any discomfort or pain during therapy so adjustments can be made to prevent injury.

What Are the Risks of Physical Therapy?

The risks of physical therapy are minimal but can include injury, increased pain, or discomfort during treatment. It is essential to consult with a licensed physical therapist to assess any potential risks and develop a personalized treatment plan. Risks can also be minimized by properly warming up before exercise, using proper form during exercises, and communicating any discomfort or pain to the therapist.

Can Physical Therapy Make Pain Worse?

Sometimes, physical therapy can cause temporary discomfort or increased pain during treatment. However, this is often a sign of progress as the body adjusts to new movements and exercises. It is important to communicate any discomfort or pain to the therapist to prevent injury or worsening of symptoms. The therapist can adjust the treatment plan to minimize discomfort and help you progress towards your goals.

How Do You Know If Physical Therapy Is Working or Not?

The effectiveness of physical therapy depends on the individual and their specific goals. An experienced physical therapist will monitor progress and adjust the treatment plan accordingly. Signs of progress may include decreased pain, increased range of motion, improved strength, and improved function. It is important to communicate any concerns or questions with the therapist to ensure treatment is meeting your expectations.

What Should You Do If You Experience Negative Side Effects After Physical Therapy?

If you experience negative side effects after physical therapy, such as increased pain or discomfort, it is important to communicate with your therapist immediately. The therapist can assess the situation and adjust the treatment plan accordingly. In some cases, rest or additional medical treatment may be necessary. It is important to follow the therapist’s instructions and communicate any concerns or questions throughout the healing process.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!