Should You See Your Doctor First for Back or Knee Pain

As a physical therapist I speak to a LOT of people on the phone and over Zoom daily – helping them figure out what to do about their back and knee pain.

One of the biggest questions I’ve heard from people lately….

Well, shouldn’t I see my doctor first?

This makes sense, right? It’s what we are told to do from a young age. When something is wrong – go to the doctor. When you’re feeling ill, if you’ve got an infection, or you’ve got unrelenting pain that is not going away no matter what you do – you want to talk to your doctor. You want to make sure there is nothing seriously wrong with you.

But what about for back and knee pain?

The answer to this question really depends on three things:

  • How fast you want to start experiencing relief?
  • Do you want to rely on pills and procedures to manage your problem?
  • Do you want the problem to come back or stay gone?

If you want to get to the root cause of your back or knee pain quickly – which will ultimately lead to faster and more long-term pain relief – you need to see someone who specializes in movement.


Because 70-80% of ALL back and knee pain is what we call “mechanical” – and it’s caused by faulty movement habits or postures.

These movement habits develop slowly over time, sometimes in response to a previous injury, sometimes in response to something you repeat over and over. Either way, they easily go unnoticed and they are often difficult to detect by someone who is not trained to look for this.

Medical doctors are not trained to diagnose mechanical movement problems. They are trained to do very basic musculoskeletal screening tests, and they are trained to take pictures of your bones, muscles and ligaments (X-rays and MRI’s). This is an essential step to take if you’ve had a major fall or accident – or you have unrelenting and constant pain that never goes away, not even with rest or medication.

But these tests aren’t necessary for the majority of people we speak with. (Besides, we are trained to know when you need these tests also, and on occasion I’ve sent people away from my office to go see their doctor.)

If you go and see your doctor first, or wait to see us because you think you need to see your doctor first, you risk getting sent down a rabbit hole of tests and procedures, and you also risk delaying yourself from getting a real long-term solution to your problem. If you’re prescribed medication, it will mask the underlying problem, and it will not only come back but could keep getting worse. If you get a procedure you don’t really need, you risk “fixing” something that can’t ever be “un-fixed” – if it wasn’t the root cause of your problem to begin with.

Medical doctors who have kept up with the latest research actually know this. They know that 70-80% of all musculoskeletal pain is resolved with movement and exercise. They know that prescribing medication will only mask the pain and delay you getting to the root cause of your problem. And they know that things like arthritis and wear and tear are NORMAL parts of aging, and that if these things show up on an Xray or MRI, it doesn’t mean you need to go see an orthopedic surgeon and it doesn’t mean you need to “clean things up” or “cut things out”.

Did you know that knee arthritis is MORE common in people who’ve had procedures in their knees??

Sadly, however, most medical doctors do not keep up with the latest research on this topic. Why would they? They are so busy and overloaded as it is, and they need to stay on top of important research like what’s happening with the coronovirus right now.

If you’re suffering from back and knee pain, and you are looking for a long-term solution that doesn’t involve pills, procedures, or surgery – don’t go see your doctor first – hop on the phone with us.

We can ease your fears and concerns, and can absolutely let you know if you’re pain warrants a visit to your doctor. We are trained to recognize this and we can tell you this even from a phone call or Zoom session.

By talking to us first, you’ll actually be helping your doctor out, so they can be free to focus on helping people with problems they specialize in – which is not musculoskeletal pain – that’s our specialty 🙂

If you want to hop on the phone with a specialist PT, we are still offering this service for free right now. We can talk to you on the phone or over Zoom.

Reply back to this email or fill out this form!

We’ll set up a time to talk to you about what’s going on with your back or knee – and if you’re a good fit for what we do – will help you get started!

CLICK HERE to request a free telephone consultation with a specialist at our clinic.

Request a FREE 15 Minute Telephone Consultation Click Here »
Trupti Mehta, PT, MS, OCS

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