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Does physical therapy hurt?

Does Physical Therapy Hurt
3 minutes, 25 seconds

If you’ve never been to physical therapy before, you might be worried about whether it will hurt. Physical therapy can definitely seem intimidating if you’re new to it. There are, indeed, a few things that you should know about physical therapy before attending sessions. For example, you should visit a physical therapist at least once a year. To keep learning, read below.

So, does physical therapy actually hurt?

In short, the answer is no. Physical therapy shouldn’t hurt. If you ever feel pain during your session and you voice this to your therapist, to which they don’t respond, you’re probably not with the right therapist. Every good physical therapist is trained to communicate with their patients about what physical sensations the patient is experiencing, and if their patients tell them they’re in pain, they respond accordingly. You should never feel like you’re in an unbearable amount of pain during your sessions. 

  • Physical therapy isn’t supposed to hurt — It’s important to remember that physical therapy isn’t meant to be painful. It’s meant to help you build strength and work toward recovery while staying within your pain threshold. It’s your responsibility to communicate with your therapist and let them know if you’re in pain during a session. From there, they’ll work to keep your movements and exercises at a manageable pain level for you. 
  • People experience pain differently — Keep in mind that people experience pain differently. Pain is felt on a spectrum, and some people have a higher pain tolerance than others. What this essentially means is that what might be painful to you might not be the same for others. It’s important to listen to your own body and tell your physical therapist immediately when a certain movement causes you to feel pain. Just because someone else might be able to tolerate a movement doesn’t mean that you have to.
  • Your therapist can adjust your movements — Any physical therapist should be capable of adjusting movements and exercises so that they are more comfortable for you to perform. If you do experience pain while completing an exercise, you shouldn’t hesitate to tell your physical therapist. They should be more than willing to provide you with alternative exercises or modify your current ones. The goal of your physical therapist is to gently and gradually get you to a point where your body is in better physical condition so that you can move with relative ease.

While experiencing pain during your sessions isn’t standard, many patients do report feeling soreness and discomfort during or after their visits. Soreness and discomfort are pretty normal. Keep reading about these in the bulleted points below.

Why might my body hurt after physical therapy sessions?

  • Soreness — You can expect to feel soreness after your sessions, which is different from pain. Soreness is mildly uncomfortable and will be felt mostly in your muscles as you’re building muscle strength. It’s the same kind of soreness you’d feel after a good workout at the gym.
  • Discomfort — Discomfort is also a normal sensation to experience during your sessions. You might have stiffness or a limited range of motion in certain areas of your body, and for that to improve, your therapist will use techniques that gradually push past those physical limitations. This will probably be uncomfortable at first but is normal as long as it doesn’t cross over to the point where you’re in pain.

On the days that you’re feeling sore or you feel moderate physical discomfort after a session, it can be helpful to keep in mind the benefits of receiving care from a physical therapist. Read about the benefits below.

What are some of the benefits of going to physical therapy?

  • It’s a conservative and noninvasive treatment.
  • It can help you through injury recovery.
  • It can help you prepare for surgical procedures.
  • It involves a whole-body approach.
  • It can help you manage chronic pain.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch physical therapy that shouldn’t hurt

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. 

Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your condition through physical therapy sessions that won’t hurt. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find help for your injury or chronic condition today!


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