Pain Is Not A Prerequisite

CorePhysio Movement Newsletter July 2021

“Pain Is Not A Prerequisite”

At its face value, physical therapy is meant to help patients recover from injury and effectively return to the human experience, sport, and daily movement. Whether a car wreck, overuse injury, fall, or likewise, it is often a profound injury and profound pain that persuades us to seek help from the healthcare industry. But what is your breaking point? Do you have to make yourself suffer “x” number of days before you seek help? Do you delay it inevitably until the pain renders you incapacitated to your living room floor?

Too often, as physical therapists, we hear people say “I have a big pain tolerance” or “I am tough and the pain isn’t that bad anyways”. We have fallen into a reactive form of healthcare at which point our injuries are much more profound and much more compensated for. 

Let’s think about this for a moment: What would happen if you addressed your injury when it happened and didn’t wait? Would your pain still be there? Would you be moving better now?

Direct Access in NM

Let’s say you want to go to PT upon your own will without another healthcare provider telling you need to do so. Well, you’re in luck. New Mexico among all of the 50 states offers “Direct Access” which allows you to see a physical therapist, no questions asked, for 30 days. The only caveat being you must show progress or improvement with objective measurements of performance to continue care beyond that point. 

Per American Physical Therapy Association and NM PT Practice Act definition: “A PT may evaluate and treat absent a referral, however the PT must refer a patient to the patient’s licensed health care provider if, after 30 days of initiating physical therapist intervention, the patient has not made measurable or functional improvement with respect to the primary complaints. If the patient is making measurable progress and improving, the 30-day limit does not apply.”

Assuming your PT clinic has the ability to fit you into the schedule at the time of calling (most clinics leave a little wiggle room), then you should hypothetically be able to have 8 PT visits within that month if you’re attending twice per week. Of course this depends on what you’re attending PT for, the frequency the therapist deems appropriate, and financial considerations of each patient. 

In those 8 visits, 8 hours of treatment, 8 hours of 1-on-1 learning with the physical therapist, imagine the things you learn about your body. You may discover minor differences in strength from one leg to another or that you hold one shoulder higher than the other due to a previous injury or even that your sitting positioning at work could be the root cause of your back pain. Whatever it may be, we all need another set of skilled eyes to tease out our bodies’ weakness and address them with individualized mobility and strengthening movement. As a physical therapist, I for one have had to employ my colleagues in the healthcare industry, massage therapists and strength coaches alike, because I as well as all of you know our bodies and preferences too well and often need another set of eyes to point out our weaknesses so we may improve to be the best version of ourselves. 

Human Performance and Human Experience

We cannot afford not to move and not to improve our body’s weakness through the lifespan. Letting habits dictate our experience and performance can lead to lower life satisfaction and pull us away from doing the things we love with the people we love. In order to do this, we should consider the pillars of performance and what they mean to us:

  • Attainable goal setting
  • Physical Therapist Screening Tools
  • Low to moderate intensity resistance training
  • Mobility and movement analysis
  • Injury prevention training

Why CorePhysio?

Choosing a physical therapist is an immensely personal decision and should not be taken lightly. You’re about to have a relationship with a medical professional that can help you be better than you were before your injury and will likely be hands-on in a professional manner to assess and treat your injury. So why would you go to just any clinic? Do you know the accolades of your treatment team? Do you know their education and skill levels? How long are the visits and do you see the same therapist every visit? 

These are all valid questions to ask yourself prior to scheduling your initial evaluation or even follow-up visits. So here is what we are about:

  • 1 hour long 1-on-1 PT evaluation and treatment with Doctors of Physical Therapy only
  • Evidence-based treatment focused on functional movement and patient education to empower you to improve
  • We ask how we can help you and NOT just why you are hurt. This is your individual experience and should in no way mirror another patient with the same injury


1.   Moran, R. W., Schneiders, A. G., Major, K. M., & Sullivan, S. J. (2016). How reliable are Functional Movement Screening scores? A systematic review of rater reliability. British journal of sports medicine, 50(9), 527-536.

2.   Bury, T. J., & Stokes, E. K. (2013). A global view of direct access and patient self-referral to physical therapy: implications for the profession. Physical therapy, 93(4), 449-459.

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