Do Physical Therapists get injured?
The short answer is yes. Despite having as much knowledge of the human body as we do, we can still suffer injuries just like everyone else. With that being said, I recently went through a knee surgery to fix a torn meniscus and wanted to share my journey through the process along with some things that came up during my rehab that may be helpful for you.
After I started having some knee pain, I knew that something was off. I tried to rest it for a couple of weeks, do some exercises, icing, and soft tissue work with no long-term success. I had a bad feeling that it was my meniscus in the way the pain was presenting and other symptoms I was experiencing. Luckily, I work at a pretty awesome outpatient PT (Physical Therapy) clinic so I was able to have a PT I work with to check out my knee. After she did a quick evaluation, she agreed with me and felt like it was also my meniscus. From there, we both agreed that an MRI was the next step. She was able to write me a script to get an MRI that I scheduled for the next week. Many people think that in order to get imaging done they have to see their primary doctor or an ortho. Here in Colorado Physical Therapists are allowed to order imaging. So if a pain arises and the wait at your doctor is a couple of weeks then Physical Therapy might be the place to start.
After getting the MRI it was confirmed that I had a tear in my meniscus. Next steps were to find an orthopeadic surgeon to discuss my options. Luckily, our office had connections to many surgeons (for all different body parts) so I knew the surgeon I wanted to see. It is very important to do your research before meeting with a surgeon. The beauty of the internet these days is that most people have reviews on them that can be very helpful in picking who you go see. Also, reaching out to local PT clinics or doctors offices to see who they recommend is a great idea. Do not be scared to get a second opinion. If a surgery is required, that is a major decision, and if time is not an issue, making sure opinions match is a great way to ensure you are getting the best quality care. It is also important that you fully understand and have knowledge on what exactly the issue is and how the surgery will fix it. A lot of times, surgery verbiage can sound foreign to those that do not work in medicine. So make sure you take the time to research the issue and go to the surgery appointment with questions that may come up.
Once the surgeon is selected and the surgery is set up, it is important to make sure your plans for after surgery are all in place a week or two before. Luckily, my surgery was an outpatient procedure so I got to go home that day. Some surgeries you may have to spend a night or two in the hospital and it just makes things easier if you have a plan in place. Other helpful things to note include: should I get/borrow an ice machine, will I need assistive equipment (i.e: raised toilet seat, walker, crutches, etc), should I plan to spend time on one floor so I do not have to go up and down stairs, will I need time off from work, etc. For people that live alone with minimal-to-no assistance from family/friends, I cannot recommend enough to try and make some meals ahead of time that you can freeze to just heat-up post surgery.