Tuesday, March 16, 2010

initial physical therapy session

As soon as I left my orthopedist, I went looking for a physical therapist. The clinic recommended their own physical therapy center, but they were booked solid for a couple of weeks, and there was no way I was waiting. An assistant suggested a place located in a sports club close to work. I called them immediately, and found out that they had an opening for the following day. w00t! I booked it, first verifying that they would accept my insurance.

The physical therapy center was well-versed in the ways of insurance. They told me I'd need an external referral from my PCP in order for insurance to cover my tab. So I rang up my doctor, and had to navigate a bizarre automated phone response system in order to enter my referral request. I never actually spoke to a person, and the message said that there would be no confirmation that the referral was sent. Hm.

The next day, when I went to the center, I asked how much the session would cost if my insurance didn't cover it. The answer was $150 per session. At that rate, I would only attend a few sessions if it were not covered... I would probably be doing all exercises at home at this point, if not for the insurance. As it is, I only have a $10 co-pay.

During the first session, I showed my physical therapist the MRI report, and emphasized the other conditions I had in addition to adhesive capsulitis. He seemed reasonably attentive. He did a few tests of my shoulder (more than the orthopedist had done on my first visit to her). Then he had me lie down on a table and gave my left shoulder a really deep massage. It felt wonderful and didn't hurt at all. That was followed by some very painful manipulations of my arm and shoulder.

Finally, he printed out a sheet with six physical therapy exercises on it, and told me to do them at home each day.

The whole session took about 1 h 20 min. I was surprised that it ran over an hour, but I figured this was because it was the first session. In fact they regularly run over an hour (and sometimes start late). I can't really complain about this, since the physical therapist told me that the more PT I do, the faster I'll regain my range of motion. I'm able to do between 40 and 90 minutes of PT exercises at home, usually. I try to spread them out over the course of the day.

I asked the physical therapist what pro athletes do if they get this condition. Surely they can't afford to be out of action for months at a time? He told me that 1) they take any injection necessary (presumably meaning corticosteroids, which I have no intention using) and 2) they do PT 3-4 hours per day. I'm not confident that the therapist knew for sure of athletes who have adhesive capsulitis; he may have been speaking of pro sports injuries in general. I'd like to read more about how pro athletes deal with this condition.

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