People often wonder, if I go to physical therapy will it hurt? Sometimes I’ve heard people say “PT” stands for “pain and torture.”
So, does physical therapy hurt? This is the good news: most of the time the answer is NO!
When will physical therapy hurt? Once in a while the answer is yes, BUT that is because of the surgery you have had and the steps that you need to go through to get past the normal side effects of having a surgery. What surgeries will be more painful to rehabilitate from? In my experience as a physical therapist, new knee replacements seem to be the most painful. Second to that is shoulder surgery. The worse pain is usually there for a while only then gets better as you recover and move more, usually within a few weeks to a month.
When should physical therapy be comfortable? Most of the time physical therapy should be comfortable and make you feel better as each treatment progresses. The old adage of “no pain no gain” does NOT apply. When you have an injury, working weak muscles until they are tired will be a good limit of exercise; if you push past the muscle you are working feeling tired (heavy and achey) you might cause more pain because your body is working in its weak zone and that is when more pain happens.
Will there be soreness after my physical therapy session? It is pretty common for patients to feel sore after their PT appointment, especially your first visit because we have to have you move a lot to fully evaluate your problem. Sometimes after introducing a new exercise, or increasing resistance you will be sore too. You should not be in pain, however and if your soreness is there for more than 1-2 days, speak up on your next PT session because that is too long.
Most of the time physical therapy should be comfortable and leave you feeling good!
It is an odd thing, and it doesn't really make sense, but it's true that weak hips can cause knee pain. "How is that?" you may wonder.
Look at this video taken about a week ago. This patient had a a new hip put in, so she is weak on her right (left side of the video). Watch her step down, and you will see her right hip shifts to the outside, and her right thigh and knee roll in. Because her right thigh rolls in her kneecap is tugged to the outside of its normal groove causing knee pain.
Check back tomorrow to see if her hip gets stronger and her knee pain goes away!