Activity, Lifestyle

Five questions I always get asked by my patients.

Hello Joint Supporters!  If I had a dollar for every time one of patients asked me one of these questions, well….I would be able to go on a nice vacation somewhere!  But seriously, if so many patients have the same questions, then I’m sure you have thought about this a time or two as well.  So, here it is!

  1.  Why does my pain come and go?

This is a great question, and honestly we still don’t fully know the answer! But, there are some possible structures at play. Inflammation can easily aggravate a joint or a nerve, and sometimes you don’t have to see it to have it. Our bodies retain more fluid at night, so some people tend to hurt more at night because of this.

If nerves are causing your pain, nerve pain can be affected by several things including your emotions! On days when you are sad or depressed, do you hurt more? There is a huge correlation between depression and pain! Those are just a couple of reason why your pain subsides and then increases. Consistent exercise and food intake will help level out not only your mind, but your body as well!

2. Why do I always feel better when I leave PT?

Exercise produces dopamine, also call the “feel good” stuff that makes you happy. Ever won a door prize at a meeting or a party? Even if you know the prize is a cheesy dollar tree goody bag with a company pen and some peppermints, you get excited about winning! That’s dopamine being released! Exercise actually does the same thing!

So what should you do? Sounds like you need to start getting in some light exercise- walking, cycling, your home exercise program (HEP) your PT gave you…wink wink. More exercise = more dopamine = feel better!

3. Should I get a MRI?

Great question! MRIs are certainly our “gold standard” for imaging and being able to see what’s going on, but let me tell you a dirty little clinic secret. I’ve seen a completely clean and healthy MRI that shows nothing and my patient can barely walk with pain. I’ve seen a trashed MRI with virtually every problem known to man going on and I’m wondering how this patient can even walk, and their pain is minimal.

New research coming out strongly suggests that MRIs are NOT needed for treating patients in physical therapy. So my answer is…you don’t need it right away. Try PT, see if it relieves your symptoms, if not, then a MRI may be warranted to see if something beyond PTs control is going on. Save that $2k!

4. Should I use ice or heat for my pain?

Short answer, it depends! Long answer. See my blog post about ice vs. heat

5. What can you (a PT) do for me?

Well, glad you asked! Newsflash! We don’t just treat joint replacements, shoulder surgeries and car accident injuries! We are biomechanics experts! We learn the ins and outs of all of your 208 bones and over 700 muscles (Yes, 700!) and we learn how they all work together, or in your case, don’t work together. We are trained to spot things about the way you walk, the way you move, and look at your symptoms to figure out where your weaknesses are. Usually, your problems are complicated by a posture issue. Now, before you sit up taller because I said posture, I mean spine, pelvis, and rib cage posture. We look at all of that and figure out what specific areas you need to strengthen, coordinate, stretch, or loosen in order to relieve your symptoms. From the mild ache to a massive injury, PTs can absolutely help your joints move better and reduce your pain!

So what questions do you have?  I want to know! Comment me below or message me at and I would love to help you get in the right direction.


~ Courtney

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