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How Would I Know If Physical or Occupational Therapy Can Help Me?

physical therapy & occupational therapy Miami - after wrist surgery care

Often when people call our clinic with pain, they are often skeptical if therapy in general can help them – get better sleep without the pain or numbness, be able to grab something heavy without pain, or be able to work at the computer without suffering.


Occupational or Physical Therapy can benefit people in many ways.  But how will I know if therapy will help me?

This is an extremely valid question that we get here all the time at our Miami hand therapy clinic Hands-on Therapy Services.

No two injuries are the same, as no two people are exactly the same.  Even if it is the same body part of “diagnosis”.

But before I can even tell you how our therapy services can help you, I need to tell you when therapy DOES NOT work.

  1. Therapy does not work if you only go once.
  2. Therapy does not work if you are NOT given a prescription of movements that work and don’t work for you and your desired lifestyle.
  3. Therapy does not work when you don’t get to the root cause of the problem. This requires problem solving techniques.

Those are some simple ways you would know that a therapy place you are going to may not be able to help you get rid of aches and pains. 

I’m extremely aware that it’s easy to buy the pills, get the injections OR go to a therapy clinic out of convenience.

My success story of tennis elbow

We (myself included) have been told over and over that take these pills and your pain will go away…get the injection and you will be back to normal. Yes – that’s fine to try it. There’s always a time and place for that.

I actually remember having tennis elbow years ago when I switched jobs and had to increase how much I was writing. It killed my arm. I couldn’t even squeeze a wet sponge, it was so painful.

I was told to take anti-Inflammatories, wear a brace, and if nothing worked, I could have an injection. But see, I knew that was not going to work because I had that in my foot for plantar fasciitis and it did nothing for my foot.

Therapy did not work for me because I was not given a plan – that’s because I didn’t go to anyone specifically. I was just told to do it by a therapy friend and had no follow up or follow through. That’s equivalent to watching a YouTube video and thinking you fixed the problem.  That’s equivalent to going to a therapy clinic where you are just told to go from machine to machine and not given any direction.


Nothing I was told really got to the root cause of my elbow pain. 

So I set off to learn what needed to be done. When I started studying to become a Certified Hand Therapist, it really opened my eyes to what and where the true problem was.

Pills were not enough. Massaging was not long lasting. Braces did nothing. Modified working can only go so far. Icing feels nice but for how many years was I going to do all of this?

Getting to the root cause of my elbow pain was the only thing that helped me back then, and what continues to help me keep tennis elbow away for good.

When the DIY techniques are NOT helping and the aches and pains drag on…and now the worry about injections and surgery are top of mind, consider going to a great occupational/physical therapy clinic that will listen and work with you in creating a targeted plan.

Therapy DOESN’T work when you are not committed to solving the problem. There I said it.  I’ll also say that NOT all Occupational and Physical Therapists are created equal nor are the clinics you decide to go to.


If you are hurting, here’s 3 things to look for when trying therapy.

  1. Is the therapist taking the time to talk, explain, or answer your questions?
  2. Are they creating a plan for success with you?
  3. Are they working to get to the root cause of your problem?

Not all therapy clinics and therapists work the same. We have different approaches as well as specialities. If you are going to a crowded clinic, sitting with 3-4 other patients at the same time, and just told to go from machine to machine with no direction of what works or does not work – you may need to consider THAT place doesn’t work.  


When you receive proper occupational/ physical therapy in the way it was intended, it looks something like this…

Your therapist will first give you a proper examination and an actual diagnosis. Your therapy diagnosis might be different from your medical diagnosis. In fact, it should be. For example, you may come to us with a diagnosis of “carpal tunnel,” but our job is to figure out WHY your hands are numb and WHERE. Our diagnosis is going to be related to the specific movements, habits, and musculoskeletal imbalances that led you to having that problem in the first place (nerves don’t just get compressed spontaneously). Once we know that, we can come up with a plan for you.


Here’s an example…

Let’s say your carpal tunnel syndrome is due to poor sitting posture, tightness around your neck and shoulders and core weakness. When you don’t move well and you sit too much, compensations like carpal tunnel start to present itself in your hands. Your plan might then consist of strategies for better, less painful sitting postures, as well as some help getting certain areas of your shoulder and spine back to full mobility again — so that your nerves no longer irritate you.

At this stage in your treatment, any “exercises” given to you should be corrective, very specific to your problem, and should be prescribed specifically to you.

There should be nothing cookie-cutter or general about them — and they should be working!

When you have the right “movement prescription” and when your exercises are corrective versus general — your pain goes away, your problem gets resolved, and most importantly, you’ll know exactly why and can even replicate this on your own in the future.

Getting rid of something like neck, shoulder, or hand pain doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to involve pills, procedures, or surgery. But it may require you to be a bit open-minded about HOW you receive occupational and/or physical therapy.


If you’ve had a frustrating experience with occupational/physical therapy in the past, don’t just give up!

Consider working with a occupational specialist practice like ours that operates differently from traditional clinics. You don’t have to live with aches and pains. It’s also possible if you are looking for a more natural approach to avoiding pills, injections, and surgery.

If you are committed to finding a solution, request to speak with our specialist. It’s free and there’s no commitment to book an appointment, only to help you feel confident that there are options for you to get help. Naturally.

You can also grab your free  guide on getting rid of elbow pain naturally.  


Written by Hoang Tran

About the author – Hoang Tran

Hoang Tran is a Miami certified hand therapist , the owner of Hands-on Therapy Services and author of the book “The Hands-On Approach”. She loves helping people with hand, neck and shoulder problems, because she knows how bad and debilitating they can get if not addressed and treated properly (once and for all!).

The aim of her occupational therapy practice in the Miami area is to bring patients back to full functionality, without pills, injections or surgery. Occupational and Physical Therapy are both offered at Hands-On Therapy by our experienced therapists who provide a comprehensive approach to your care. If you would like more information about the services give us a call at 786-615-9879 or visit handsots.com

In these difficult times, we are here to help. Telehealth and online sessions are available!

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