5 Warning Signs You’re Wasting Your Time in PT


Dr. John De Noyelles, PT, OCS, CSCS

Are you questioning whether you are receiving the best care with your current physical therapy clinic?  Co-pays and time spent add up quickly.  Is it paying off in terms of making measurable changes in your life?  Here are 5 warning signs that you are wasting your time:

  1. Every session is the same: This is a problem.  Not addressing multiple areas with treatment through the course of your care is ignoring that good physical therapy includes addressing all regions that may have contributed to your injury/pain.  Doing the same exact thing for numerous sessions suggests your therapist is either lazy, not assessing your progress, or is not attempting to help you achieve your goals in the most efficient way possible.
  2. You spend 10 minutes or more on one thing (such as a stationary bike): Use of a stationary bike may be necessary at times and for different purposes.  We have patients who rode the bike for 20-30 minutes while under the care of their previous PT.  30 minutes!  Really!?!  This is called “filler” time and should not be considered skilled care.  You and/or an insurance company was billed for all of this time.  No wonder insurance companies have become difficult.
  3. You go to PT 3 times per week for 6 weeks (or more): Unless due to extreme circumstances such as complications after surgery or severe difficulties in function, three times per week is overkill.  3 times per week times 6 weeks =  money taken out of your pocket and put into that of the owners of the clinic.  I see many of my patients once per week and sometimes once every two weeks.  As long as these patients are experiencing measurable changes and achieving their goals they can spend less time and money on PT and more on the things they want to do.
  4. The majority of your session is utilized with hot packs and ultrasound: Ultrasound, cold laser, electrical stimulation, and hot and cold packs should be considered adjunct or not used at all as they have limited (if any) research supporting their use.  If the majority of your session includes these passive and ineffective treatments then your therapist is not adept in using a hands-on approach and prescribing therapeutic exercise.  It also suggests that your PT is focused on quantity of patients and not quality of care.
  5. You’re not seeing changes in your pain and function: This is the bottom line.  Are you seeing and feeling changes and getting better in a reasonable time?  Most importantly, are you on your way to achieving your goals?  If your answer is “No,” then maybe you’re wasting your time.


When in doubt, seek out other providers and ask if you can personally meet and discuss your case with the person who would treat you.  Effective, caring clinicians will be open to this and can schedule you for a consultation.


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