Why It's Important to Start PT Early

Anna Kleiner

Why is it important to start physical therapy early? Does it really matter if someone with an injury gets physical therapy right at the start or waits a little while?

When an employee’s injury doesn’t seem severe, getting physical therapy right away can seem like overkill. Is physical therapy really necessary if they just sprained an ankle or hurt their back? Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to, well, wait?

While it’s true that physical therapy (PT) isn’t needed for every injury, when it is recommended, it’s important to do it right away. Here’s why you shouldn’t wait to start PT.

The longer an injury goes without treatment, the worse it gets.

Medical research shows muscle atrophy and nerve changes can begin within 24 hours of injury. Getting PT early helps prevent these changes by starting treatment before atrophy begins. In other words, there’s less damage to heal, and the patient can get better faster.

It can save money in the long run.

It may not seem that way at first, especially if it’s a minor injury—but minor injuries can quickly become more serious if they don’t get the right care. If an employee doesn’t know how to properly protect a sprained wrist, for example, they may end up causing more damage to the injury when they use it. If they just rest at home instead of going to PT, they may not recover fully—increasing the risk of future injury.

Getting PT right away, even if it’s just one or two recommended visits, gives a patient the right treatment and tools to recover quickly and safely. Waiting until the injury gets worse just means even more PT will be needed later—and maybe other procedures, as well.

It gives patients more control in their recovery.

Getting injured is never a pleasant experience, but getting injured at work can come with a lot of extra issues that can delay recovery. Employees can worry about getting hurt again, especially if they got hurt doing something they do every day. They may be worried about going back to work and suffering another injury. If the injury is severe enough, they may think they can never go back to work at all. 

Physical therapists can talk through these concerns with an injured employee, and teach them what they can do to avoid reinjury. Learning these techniques and progressing in physical therapy gives patients a greater sense of control over their recovery—and doing it early helps address concerns before they become overwhelming.

Concentra physical therapists practice under the same roof as our physicians, making it easy for employees to get PT right away. Learn more about how we practice physical therapy in our Physical Therapy section, or talk to one of our work health experts to ask questions about our model.