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Are You Reluctant About Telehealth Physical Therapy Because It's Not Hands-On?

by Dr. Tamer Issa, PT, DPT

If you are, you are not alone. It is one of the most common concerns that people have.

You don't have to read any further unless you are in pain and you think you need physical therapy but are reluctant because you are not sure how effective it might be to do it in a telehealth format.

Several people have reached out to me in the past several weeks inquiring about Telehealth Therapy saying something along the lines of... "you helped me in the past using dry needling" or "you are a hands-on therapist, how can you do that through telehealth?"

This is what I have to say about that. There is so much more that goes into my therapy process outside of what I do with my hands or with a needle.

What most people don't know is that the majority of the success I have with clients is due to my clinical reasoning skills, education, years of experience, and most importantly... teaching people about their bodies and empowering them with the tools to take care of themselves.

The first part of the equation is the assessment and it is the most important part. It involves taking a thorough history, going through a physical exam, and coming up with a physical therapy diagnosis that identifies not only the source of the pain but also the underlying root causes. That all can be done in a telehealth format. 

Once the problem is identified, there are multiple ways to go about the second part of the equation... the treatment. Of course, I have a bias towards manual therapy and dry needling, but I have a lot of other tools in my toolkit. If you have seen me in the last 10 years then you already know this.

I know that I can have a positive effect through telehealth therapy because I have already done so with others.

Is it equal to an in-person visit, some would argue that it isn't. Honestly, that is debatable? There is no doubt that manual therapy and dry needling are highly effective at relieving pain and restoring mobility. However, the power of me teaching you how to relieve your pain, how to improve your mobility and function, and how to prevent aggravating your problem is more powerful than anything I can do... to you.

That's the truth!

Is it more work for you? Yes! 

Do we have to get a little creative? Yes! 

Can we make a difference together that is meaningful? Absolutely, yes!

There is one thing in common with everyone that I spoke to in the last several weeks... they all needed therapy and if it wasn't for COVID they would have already started with therapy but for their own reasons they couldn't do an in-person visit. I respect that.

I will say this plainly. What is the alternative? What is the cost of doing nothing and taking a wait and see attitude? Certainly, a telehealth session is better than nothing at all.

If you need therapy and you have been reluctant because you think that getting the outcome you want can only happen with an in-person visit, you are holding yourself back from feeling better, moving better, and getting back to doing the things you love. Give it a try, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how helpful and effective it can be.

Check out our Telehealth Therapy page to get a better idea if Telehealth Therapy is right for you and your needs. 

Check out Dr. Tamer Issa's book, Freedom From Neck & Back Pain- Learn to Live an Active Life Without Fear of Pain