Q: I saw a Physical Therapist for low back pain that just wouldn't go away. I was asked all kinds of questions about my activities, how far I can walk, my ability to use the bathroom, and so on. Are all these questions really needed? Can't we just get to the treatment and get the back pain taken care of?
A: Finding out your pain and activity levels can help the therapist decide what tests to do. The goals and plan of care for you are based on your current symptoms and level of function.
This gives the therapist a baseline for you. The baseline helps measure when progress is being made. Is the treatment working? Are you getting better? There's no sense in continuing treatment when there's no improvement.
Ninety percent of a doctor's or Physical Therapist's diagnosis is based on information received from the patient in response to questions. The tests and measures used to make the final diagnosis only make up 10 percent of the examination.
Mark A. Lyle, PT, MSPT, et al. Relationship of Physical Examinatin Findings and Self-Reported Symptom Severity and Physical Function in Patients with Degenerative Lumbar Conditions. In Physical Therapy. February 2005. Vol. 85. No. 2. Pp. 120-133.