What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a healthcare profession focused on examining and treating skeletal and muscular problems to reach optimal function and movement. Physical therapists are focused on prevention, treatment and management of movement difficulties created from a variety of reasons including injury, disease, accidents, and surgery.

What can I expect at my first appointment?

The first visit with your therapist involves a full clinical evaluation of the joints , muscles and nerves related to the area of the body you are seeking treatment for. A detailed questionnaire is filled out and discussed with the therapist, along with any imaging results (i.e. x-rays, MRI’s) you may have had. This appointment typically lasts at least 45-60 minutes. The purpose of this appointment is to determine the best plan of care to help meet the goals you help set. Some form of treatment after the evaluation will be provided day one as well.

What kind of treatments do you do?

Manual Therapy: This is a hands-on approach to therapy involving specific techniques directed at the skin, muscles, joints and nerves to improve tissue healing and restore mobility. This may include soft-tissue mobilization (massage), joint mobilization, manipulation, and stretching.

Therapeutic Exercise: Injuries and painful conditions can lead to or be caused by muscle imbalance. This can be thought of as a muscle that is ‘weaker’ in that area or conversely too ‘tight’. A specific exercise program for your condition will be developed with your therapist that may include stretching, cardiovascular conditioning, strengthening with weights, or stability work on balls and balance discs!

Ultrasound: This modality utilizes high-frequency sound waves to penetrate into painful or dysfunctional muscles and joints to foster healing and relieve pain. Unlike the ultrasound for babies, we don’t see any pictures! This is therapeutic ultrasound designed specifically for this application.

Electrical Stimulation: Sometimes known as ‘T.E.N.S.’ (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) various wave forms and frequencies may be used to help treat your condition. This should NOT be painful. Electrical stimulation can be used to treat a variety of issues from pain to weakness.

Laser: Laser or Low-level light therapy (LLLT) has been utilized for decades across Europe and Canada as an effective modality to improve tissue healing and reduce pain, and has more recently become popular in the US since FDA approval.

Hot and Cold: Both ice and heat treatments have known physiological affects involving tissue healing and relief of pain and spasm. This may be part of the treatment you receive.

Strength Training: At Washougal Sport & Spine, the gym is equipped with state-of-the-art cardiovascular and strengthening equipment. You won’t see a full row of weight machines though. We focus on functional strengthening using equipment and exercises that involve multiple muscle groups rather than isolation with a specific machine for each body part. This is more efficient and effective.

Massage: Massage techniques may be part of the treatment plan implemented by your physical therapist. This is different from a full-body massage or treatments you may have had with a massage therapist. If that is what you require, we can recommend a massage therapist for you.

Who will I see?

What makes Washougal Sport & Spine different than many physical therapy clinics is that you will see the same therapist from start to finish. We’ve found this helps to establish trust and build rapport with your therapist, as well as making your time spent in the clinic efficient each visit. Most follow-up visits after the evaluation will be approximately 45 minutes.

What should I wear?

We recommend wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. This would be something you may wear to work-out. Especially for ladies who have neck and shoulder issues that are being treated, tank-tops or sports-bras help make treatments more effective.

Will physical therapy hurt?

The goal of therapy is to help reduce pain in most instances. That is why people come to see us. However, stretching and strengthening muscles or joints that are stiff or weak can be uncomfortable sometimes. We emphasize constant communication with each client to be sure the pain or discomfort they may be experiencing is therapeutic in nature and controlled.

Do I need a referral for physical therapy?

A referral is not required to participate in therapy at Washougal Sport & Spine. Just as you may decide when to visit your massage therapist or chiropractor, physical therapy is a service you can choose for yourself! However, many times your doctor will refer you to physical therapy. Some insurances still do require the doctor’s script to cover physical therapy treatments so we will check if that is the case for you or you can call your insurance to find out. If you’ve had an auto-accident or work-related injury, physical therapy for these situations does require you to see your physician first and have an order for therapy.

Will my insurance cover physical therapy?

Most insurance providers include coverage for therapy; it depends on your plan. Commonly there is a deductible to be met and this amount ranges on your plan as well. Co-pays may also be a requirement by your insurance carrier for physical therapy appointments. We will contact your plan to determine whether this is the case for you before your first appointment.

If I don’t have insurance can I still have physical therapy?

Of course! We offer cash discounts for out-of-pocket payment. Credit or debit cards are also welcome.

How many visits will I need?

You should notice a significant change and progression toward your goals within 4-6 visits in most cases if physical therapy is going to be effective for your current condition. In some situations such as post-surgical rehabilitation or chronic pain conditions, treatment could span over several months. Most often frequency is one to two visits per week, more for rehabilitation or acute injuries.

Can I download and complete the necessary forms prior to me appointment?

Yes. You can save a little time by downloading the new patient forms and bringing them with you to your appointment.

What does a free 15 minute orthopedic screening entail?

An orthopedic screen is a free service provided to you by a licensed physical therapist to quickly answer any questions you may have about your physical health, injuries, or symptoms. We will provide a brief screen and provide a recommendation for treatment and/or follow up care. If necessary, we may recommend you see a physician, specialist or schedule a full physical therapy visit for a more comprehensive physical therapy diagnosis and recommended treatment. Simply call and mention the 15 minute assessment to be scheduled at your convenience!