How to Prevent Injury for Physical Therapists

It goes without saying treating patients is a physical job. Not only is extensive knowledge required, but physical strength and stamina are a large part of being successful when working in physical therapy. That being said, treating patients can take a toll on a therapist’s body, putting them at risk for the very issues patients come to be treated for. What’s wonderful about physical therapy are the array of modalities available that are time-efficient and powerful, helping keep physical therapists feeling their best in order to deliver the top quality patient care throughout their career.

Preventative measures are important in insuring longevity within a physical therapist’s career. Here’s a list of some of the most common complaints physical therapists can experience and some simple reminders to help take care of these issues before they become chronic problems.

Top 5 Physical Therapists Physical Complaints

  1. Low Back Pain: Physical therapists spend a lot of time on their feet, leaning over a treatment table and mobilizations patient’s body which can lead to low back pain. In addition to using proper body mechanics remembering to apply heat or ice as needed can help reduce low back pain.
  2. Carpal Tunnel: Extensive manual therapy in addition to mobilizations can lead to overuse of the hands and wrists. Some of my favorite modalities for hand and wrist pain are paraffin wax, ultrasound, in addition to cold compression therapy.
  3. Neck pain: Again, leaning over clients leads to a forward head posture which can create neck pain. Making sure to stretch as well performing chin tucks throughout the day will help maintain a neutral posture. When neck pain occurs, using ice in addition to a traction table can help alleviate pain.
  4. Foot Pain: All that time on the feet means it makes sense there would be some pain at the end of the day. Wearing supportive shoes, taking breaks and doing a quick treatment in a heated whirlpool will help decrease the pain and pressure experienced in the feet.
  5. Hip pain: Another common complaint, hip pain is most likely caused by a number of factors. Luckily, a lot can be alleviated by stretching, using Combination Therapy and kinesio taping to increase the stability of the hip joint.

All of these problems are pretty common complaints among therapists in the clinic. Luckily, treatment using the available modalities, in addition to quality foot-care, therapeutic exercise and stretching can be efficient in resolving these issues and perhaps most importantly be done solo. Meaning, therapists don’t have to wait for the time to get on another therapists schedule to treat any issues they experience throughout the workday.

There is a belief that people in the health field, don’t take care of themselves because they are so busy taking care of other people. While this sounds very noble, that practice won’t help a practitioner sustain themselves or their career. Prevention and dealing with issues as they occur go a long way towards keeping a long, thriving career helping others and maintaining vibrant health.