Over the last 10 to 15 years, health care providers have focused more on using evidence-based medicine to determine what works best for their individual patients. This involves basing treatments on objective tests of effectiveness published in scientific literature, rather than on just anecdotal, subjective observations made in the office. While seeking out the appropriate research can be difficult and time consuming, the Internet has greatly increased the ease with which many health care providers can access and rapidly sort up-to-date information.
Physical therapy has likewise moved in the same direction. Because a program that works for one patient may not be effective for another, we incorporate a patient’s information, preference or particular circumstance, along with our clinical expertise and research evidence, to identify an approach that will guide decision making and provide the most benefit for that particular patient.
For instance, if you have injured a joint, such as a shoulder or a knee, before consulting the research literature, we may ask the following medical history questions to identify the specifics of your injury:
- When did you first experience pain?
- What caused the pain?
- Is the pain constant or intermittent?
- Are there any other circumstances that affect the pain?
- Are there vocational concerns to be considered?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- Have you tried any home remedies, and what were the results?
We will integrate the answers to these questions and your particular patient or family preferences with findings from systematic research and our own clinical experience. We will then utilize this information to design a physical therapy program of stretching and strengthening exercises that will accomplish the outcome best for you.