Updated: Apr 21, 2020
My old high school friend Rick messaged me today. "Rotator Cuff. It's all about the isolation, and doing exercises with bands, right?"
What to say?
I don't want to be like my old friend Pete. If you asked Pete what time it was, he would tell you how his watch worked.
I also don't want to give Rick a quick answer that will not lead to success, and might even lead to more problems.
This brings me to the topic of Physical Therapy Diagnosis, and our motto of Movement is Medicine. I'm not going to be like Pete, and go on for hours (although I could). Instead I'll use an analogy, and I think you'll get the point.
If you walk into a pharmacy, do you randomly pick medicines off the shelf? Do you take them based on what you read in a magazine, or what a friend told you? Well, some of you probably would if you could. But for things to really work, you need a good diagnosis to determine what you'll be prescribed, and in what dose.
It's the same when it comes to PT. What exactly is Rick's problem? Does he have pain, limited motion, weakness? What is the most direct cause of that problem? Does he have a rotator cuff tear or strain? What are the mechanical issues that are contributing to his problem? Is the problem actually coming from his neck, and might there be a systemic issue? And so on. The point is, what is good for one person will be bad or unhelpful for the next - and what is good for one person will change as time goes on. That is what PT diagnosis is all about - getting the most accurate picture possible of your problem, and once we have that picture prescribing the most accurate and effective plan of care. Without that diagnosis, we're randomly prescribing treatment, just like the person randomly taking medications in the pharmacy.
In future posts I'll write about how we diagnose, and also point out some of the differences between a physical therapy diagnosis and a medical diagnosis. But for now, just know that movement is medicine, but it only works if you're prescribed the right medicine.