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What Not To Say To Your Physical Therapist

Posted by Brian Spence on Nov 4, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Physical Therapist, Allied Health, Healthcare StaffingIf you've ever had physical therapy, you probably noticed that your Physical Therapist -- PT for short -- is usually a pretty friendly person. You probably chat with him or her during your session. And because you see each other on a regular schedule for several weeks or even months, you may come to feel that you can say anything to your PT. Please don't!

Check out the following list of 7 things that people say to their PTs that seem innocent enough, but might be offensive or off-putting to your PT, who will probably just try to take them in stride with a big sigh ...

  1. "You're a really great trainer." - A physical therapist is not the same as a personal trainer. Becoming a physical therapist takes years and years of school, and they hold advanced degrees. You can see why they don't want to be thought of as a "trainer"!

  2. "I can't do that exercise!" - Don't say this because your PT will immediately come up with a way to adapt it so you can do it!

  3. Similarly, if you tell him, "That exercise is way too easy!", he may explain that some exercises are actually meant to be that way. Performing simple movements repetitively helps reestablish patterns of movement. (Of course, if all your exercises are too easy, that's definitely something you'll want to discuss with him.)

  4. "Do you think I should have that injection my doctor recommends?" -- Don't ask your PT for advice about your medications or what he thinks about what your doctor said or suggested. That's not his job, and he shouldn't tell you even if he has an opinion. It puts both of you in an awkward position!

  5. Your PT just asked you what your pain level is on a scale of 1 to 10 and you say with a groan, "15 over 10"! Yes, he gets it that you're in pain, but try not to exaggerate. If you really are in that much pain, you should be back in the emergency room.

  6. Don't talk shop at a dinner party if you're seated next to somebody you know is a PT. Don't ask why your ankle hurts, or you elbow is so achy. Save it for the clinic!

  7. "Your job is so easy. All you do all day is give orders!" - Actually, a great deal of the work a PT does is of the mental variety. He's counting your reps, or watching your form as your perform an exercise. Most importantly, he's assessing your progress and planning what's next all with the goal of getting you moving again, and back to feeling your best.

Not that you'd ever mean to say anything to offend your PT! You'd probably be a little horrified to think you did! Just thought you'd like to see things from the perspective of your hard-working, good-natured PT!

On a serious note, your physical therapy program is a key piece of the healing puzzle after an injury. If you need help with physical therapy staffing, contact us.


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