What details of my medical history should I tell my physical therapist? If you have ever asked yourself this question, then this article was written for you. Physical therapists rely on the details of your communicated symptoms, medical history, and response to past treatment to guide the care you will receive. If an important detail is not communicated to your therapist, then your care may not be as effective in getting the results you desire. Furthermore, it could result in a compromise of your health and safety.
During a physical therapy evaluation, your therapist will review your medical history with you and ask many questions in regards to your symptoms. It is important to remember that the answer to these questions and the history you provide will guide the therapist’s decision-making.
Here is a list of conditions that should be provided to your physical therapist:
• Location and quality of pain: Being able to identify the location of your symptoms will help to narrow down the list of suspect tissues. A qualitative description, such as if the pain is sharp, sore, dull, etc., will help diagnose your individual problem.
• Presence of numbness/tingling/burning/stretching: These symptoms can tell your provider about the possible involvement of the nervous system and therefore should be communicated.
• Aggravating activities: A list of activities which tend to worsen your symptoms will help your provider to establish your diagnosis and track your progress.
• Past injuries/surgeries: All past injuries and surgeries are important to communicate. Even an injury or surgery distal to the area of concern occurring many years prior may affect your current condition.
• Current medical conditions: Let your therapist know any other health issues you are dealing with even if they are being treated by another provider. This provides your therapist with a fuller picture of what is going on and to ensure that your medical professionals are on the same page.
• Potential obstacles for care: Communicate any activates you perform outside of therapy that may compromise your results. For example, if your goal is to have less neck pain, but you are the primary caregiver for a family member. This would be an important factor for your physical therapist to consider while discussing reasonable and attainable goals.
In summary, the quality of information gathered will not only direct your plan of treatment but also ensure your safety and best steer you towards your goals. After all, our goals are to meet yours!