How to find a good physical therapist, Part 4: Search tips

1. Online search tips

I eventually found my physical therapist Paula, who listed SI joint dysfunction as one of her specialties, through a simple Google search.  I typed in “sacroiliac joint physical therapist” and then the name of the town next to me (which was much larger and busier than the town I actually lived in).

Paula’s name popped up, through her company website.  Sounds simple, right?

But the weird thing is, I’d done that exact same search countless times before.  Maybe I put in the name of my own actual town.  Maybe I put in “Boston,” instead of the name of a specific town.

But somehow, her name hadn’t come up.

I’d been just about everywhere else.  I’d gotten search results that led me to PT offices much farther away from me (and they’re all now on my list of failures).

Somehow, Paula had been working at this exact location, 3 miles from my parents’ house, the entire time.

That’s why I really recommend that you don’t give up after your first one or two Google searches.  Keep trying.  Rephrase things.  Check every day.

I’ll never really understand why Paula didn’t happen to pop up sooner.  Maybe I didn’t look hard enough.  Maybe there was something specific about the exact wording of my search that didn’t lead me to her.  Or maybe her company didn’t quite have the same online bio for her up– she wasn’t really sure.

But that is why I say be persistent.  Use all different types of search terms.

Don’t just type in “SI joint dyfunction.”  Try the same search, with “sacroiliac joint dysfunction” or “SIJD” (which, if you’re new to this, is an abbreviation people often use).

Don’t just type in the name of your town, if your town is small.  Try the nearest major metropolitan area.  Try the name of your state.  If you live close to the border of one state, try the name of the next state over.

Get creative, and be relentless.

In my opinion, when it comes to as complicated an issue as SI joint dysfunction, there’s no such thing as trying too hard.  

Don’t stop until you find an answer.

2. If there are medical practices or doctors that seem like they could be helpful, but aren’t in your exact area, try contacting them and asking if they know of anyone closer to you.

If there’s anything I’ve learned, living in the Boston area with its many medical schools, it’s that people in the medical community tend to know each other.  Maybe they went to school together, or had a fellowship together, or attended a training.  Even in Boston, the world of musculoskeletal pain management can tend to be a small one.

So if you contact a given practice, it’s possible they’ll be able to recommend someone closer to you.

3.  Research Articles

On that note, you don’t just have to research by treatment places– you can see who has written research articles on the SI joint.  As a starting point, take a look at the different doctors and PT’s I reference in my resources section, and see if any of them practice at all near you.

Often, their contact info will be available, or you can look them up because they’ll probably be affiliated with a particular hospital or a university.

It might be a bit non-traditional for a patient to contact the author of a research article.  However, in my time doing research for this blog, I was shocked to find that there were doctors I’d seen a long time ago for other health issues, who were now doing research on the SI joint.  Yet there was no way to know this as a former patient.  The change wasn’t necessarily reflected on their hospital website.

The only way I knew their interests had expanded, at all, was to see them as the author of a journal article.

4. Conversation

In the past few months I’ve noticed something that never used to happen to me.  I go out to a party, or friend’s birthday or something– and actually meet someone else who has suffered from SI joint dysfunction.

It’s so crazy to me because, for the first few years I had this problem, I literally had never met anyone else who had this problem.

Looking back, I’m sure I probably did come across other people suffering from SI joint issues— they probably just didn’t know that was their problem, because almost no one was talking about it, even five years ago.

Thankfully, I think SI joint dysfunction is starting to be much better recognized now.

So… go out and talk to people!  Don’t be afraid to mention that you have this problem– maybe they’ll know someone who’s also struggled with it themselves.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed these posts! My goal here was to give you a sense of the range of options that are out there– and how to start navigating them!

Ultimately, I think physical therapy is one piece of recovery– but it’s a very important piece. Correcting your SI joint alignment is one of the first steps, so that all of the other things you do — strengthening, stretching, etc.– are building on top of a stable foundation.

If you’d like personalized guidance, or help finding a physical therapist near you, that’s one of the things I help my coaching clients with– and I’d be happy to help you, too! Be sure to check out my Coaching page for more.

Previous posts in this series:

Published by Christy Collins

Hi, I'm Christy! I'm a health coach who helps people overcome SI joint dysfunction and chronic pain.

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