Tuesday, March 9, 2010

attempted physical therapy

After getting back from my ski trip, I had to wait three weeks before seeing the orthopedist.

I was sure that she would prescribe physical therapy (PT), so I decided to get a head start, and began doing some rotator cuff exercises that I had found at Yahoo! Health.

It didn't make sense to just do some exercises without testing to see if they were doing any good. So I marked a column of inches on a sheet of paper to use as a ruler, and hung it on the wall. After doing my exercises, I'd reach up against the sheet of paper to see how high I could get, and whether I had progressed at all. To start with, I could reach six inches further with my good side than with my bad.

I did exercises every day for about a week, but found there was basically no improvement in my reach. Further, I felt like the exercises were causing too much pain. I'd get a sharp pain in the front of my shoulder when reaching up. It would get worse the more I did the exercises. I feared I might be aggravating a tendon or doing some form of damage, possibly caused by impingement. I stopped doing any PT exercises, but continued doing weight-lifting pretty regularly, sticking to exercises that didn't hurt.


  1. Sorry, but just have to say I don't like when people call any exercise they find a PT exercise. An exercise is just an exerecise. A PT exercise is an actual exercise given to a patient by a Physical Therapist for a specific problem that has been examined and evaluated by the Physical Therapist to treat a specific dysfunction found through that process. I often tell my patients: "Every exercise can be a good exercise or a bad exercise, it just depends on what you are using it for."

  2. When I said "I stopped doing any PT exercises," I was trying to make the distinction between my regular weight-lifting exercises, and the rotator cuff exercises which I had found online - my homemade attempt at getting a start with PT. I think the post is clear about the fact that I had not yet been to a physical therapist. But I take your point.

  3. No problem, it's just a personal thing I deal with regularly that patients come in and say they have done "PT exercises" and don't think there is anything I can offer them. Usually after evaluating them, we find out they are doing the wrong exercises. It just takes some deconstruction of preconceived ideas.

  4. patients come in and say they have done "PT exercises" and don't think there is anything I can offer them

    I'm surprised. Are those people in a hurry to get surgery, which I assume is the only alternative?

    Personally, I was eager to get some PT and frustrated that my PCP didn't immediately prescribe it. I would only acquiesce to surgery as a last resort.

  5. Unfortunately, many people are looking for a quick fix and some don't know there are other options to surgery. Sometimes better options then surgery. To often people base their health decisions off what someone else went through or has told them.

    I know this seems strange. It is like not buying wanting to buy a car, because a friend had a bad experience when they bought a specific brand of car. Doesn't make sense but it is all to often true.

    I applaud you for doing your research and looking at all your options and educating yourself.