A frequent complaint of my clients is that they were sent to physical therapy before an MRI was ordered and they are especially upset if the doctor ultimately decides that they should have surgery. The assumption is that the doctor did not know that they had a torn rotator cuff until after the MRI result came back and that physical therapy just made them worse when what they really needed was surgery. As the two links below discuss, when the doctor orders the MRI he probably already knows that you have a torn rotator cuff and is using the MRI to confirm his belief as well as to get a “bird’s eye view” of the tear prior to surgery. Also, even if surgery is ultimately done, trying conservative measures before the surgery such as physical therapy are often indicated. Physical therapy is often done in an attempt to improve the condition to a point where surgery isn’t necessary, but also to make the surgery more effective if surgery is ultimately done.
What’s important to remember, especially if the employer/insurer is controlling your healthcare, is that while it’s natural to have doubts about the quality of the medical care you are receiving, it is extremely important to discuss with your doctor what their working diagnosis is and when and under what circumstances they will order an MRI or physical therapy.