Have A Great Relationship With Your Doctor

3 Things To Tell Your Physical Therapist Prior To Treatment

by Terry Wilson

If you were in a motor vehicle accident, have recently undergone surgery, suffered a stroke, or experience chronic pain, your doctor may have recommended that you participate in a physical therapy program. While physical therapy is considered an excellent treatment option, there are a few things that may raise your risk for complications both during and after your treatment. Here are three to discuss with your therapist prior to the beginning of your physical therapy sessions that will help prevent complications:

Anticoagulant Use

If you take prescription anticoagulants or if you take an aspirin everyday to reduce your risk for heart attack or stroke, make sure you tell your physical therapist before your session begins.

Anticoagulant medications can lead to abnormal bleeding and severe bruising, and because of this, it is important that you and your therapist use gentle techniques during your exercises and when using equipment. If you take anticoagulant medications and scrape or cut yourself during your therapy, you may experience severe or prolonged bleeding.

Never stop taking your anticoagulants because you are embarking on a new physical therapy program without speaking to your physician first. Doing so may heighten your risk for developing a dangerous blood clot, stroke, or life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia. 

Prior Surgeries

Prior surgeries may also raise your risk for problems both during and after your physical therapy sessions. Not only should you inform your physical therapist about any major surgeries you may have had, but you should also discuss minor cosmetic procedures, as well as diagnostic procedures such as laparoscopy and endoscopy procedures. I

If you undergo physical therapy too soon after a  surgical procedure, you may experience pain, fatigue, weakness, and dizziness. This is especially true if you experienced excessive blood loss during your surgery because you may have become anemic.

Anemia can cause weakness, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and exercise intolerance. If you have any of these symptoms, your doctor can order a complete blood count to evaluate your hemoglobin, hematocrit, and iron levels. 

Pain Medication Schedule 

It is important that you take your prescribed pain medication prior to your physical therapy appointments. Doing so will help ensure that you are not in severe discomfort while performing your exercises. If you are in pain, you may not be able to effectively perform your therapy movements, and therefore, may not enjoy all the benefits that physical therapy provides.

If you become too sleepy after taking your pain medication, talk to your doctor about alternative types of pain relief so that you will have enough energy to participate in your therapy regimen. Instead of opioid-based medications, your doctor may recommend non-drowsy anti-inflammatory medications, heat treatments, topical pain creams, or capsaicin patches to help minimize your pain. 

Physical therapy plays an important role in pain relief, while helping to improve your mobility and range-of-motion. To help ensure that you receive optimal benefits from your therapy sessions, discuss your anticoagulant use, prior surgeries, and pain medication schedule with your therapist. The more he or she knows about your health conditions and medication use, the more likely your therapy regimen will be more suited to your personal needs.