Physical Therapy - how to find the best therapist


Administrative Staff
Jun 11, 2013
United States United States
Article by Raucher 9 January, 2023

Finding the right Physical Therapy Group for your Recovery

I have written a number of articles over the years about having joint surgery and going through recovery. I've had both knees replaced and recently had shoulder surgery to repair my rotator cuff muscles. When you need a serious medical procedure done, it is critical that you educate yourself on the surgery, understand the anatomy that's involved, learn relevant medical terms, and find the right hospital and surgeon. But it's also important to find the right rehab facility and therapist. This person will help you regain full function and allow you to resume a normal life, or a life as best you can given the nature of your surgery. A good therapist is the final piece of your wellness puzzle.

Relying on the advice of friends or relatives or even your surgeon should be secondary to your full and complete understanding of your surgery - before, during, and after - and what physical therapy group is best for you. While not difficult to do, it does require some effort on your part. After all, knowledge is power!

Resources are available on the internet such as the educational material you will find here on BoneSmart. You can also do research online through Google and YouTube, as long as you are sure you access trusted sites that provide accurate and current information. When using BoneSmart, you can talk with other members about their experiences to learn what you may encounter as you go through your surgery and recovery. These days we often will spend more time on social media than we do learning about issues of personal health and prolonging life!

Communication with your surgeon is essential. This means making lists of questions to ask before each appointment and really listening when answers are provided. If your surgeon uses medical terms that you don't understand completely, ask them to explain. Write the terms down so you can research them later for more details. Don't just nod your head as though you fully understand what is being said, because in most cases the surgeon is speaking a foreign language.

Once you understand the surgery and have a general idea of recovery from the surgeon, you should research what physical therapy may be helpful for you in recovery. Don't rely on others to make decisions about your health and well being. The field of physical therapy involves many specialties these days and not all therapists are prepared to work with your particular needs after a joint replacement or other orthopedic surgery. In some cases, the wrong therapist can even be harmful for you and your recovering body. So read and study online information. Call and ask questions. Go to prospective therapy clinics and talk with the staff to see how they approach recovery from your particular surgery. Communicate your recovery goals.

Once you've made your selection for a therapy practice and maybe even the particular therapist, be an active participant in the recovery process. This means giving your therapist constant feedback about how things are going, what hurts and what doesn't, and what seems to be working well. After all, you know your body better than anyone!
Therapy is not always painless, but any pain you experience should be within the levels of mild discomfort rather than severe pain that often results in swelling following the session. Nothing should be done without your consent. If the therapist is manipulating your body, it should be done gently and with gradual motion or pressure. When you indicate to the therapist that they have reached your pain tolerance level, your signal should result in them immediately stopping the motion so you can have a short rest before continuing.

In my case, I'm a very active senior who still plays competitive full court basketball with guys who are decades younger. My recovery goals may be different from yours, but the philosophy behind them is the same. Find the right therapist for your particular needs, ensure they understand you and they have proven experience in what you want to achieve. This is the path to a successful recovery!

If you'd like to read more about my joint journey, check out my BoneSmart recovery threads:

New Subacromial Balloon for Rotator Cuff Surgery
Both Knees Replaced and Back to Basketball

Or you can read my BoneSmart Spotlight articles.


Craig Raucher​

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