Differential Diagnosis is the ability to discern or distinguish diseases or conditions that have similar symptoms. The goal of this book is to assist the Physical Therapist in protecting the patient from being misdiagnosed and having their condition or disease progress without undergoing treatment in a vital time frame. A systematic approach that is used in the evaluation of the patient will assist the Therapist in not forgetting to evaluate the symptoms appropriately. Symptoms that warrant a referral for further testing will hopefully be flagged by the Therapist. Certain symptoms will often highlight non-mechanical conditions or pathologies of visceral or pathological origin and can be contraindications to many Therapy treatments.
Evidence in the research is now assisting Therapist to understand which tests can provide more statistically relevant information. Following a systematic approach where the symptoms are reviewed with possible hypothetical diagnosis, the Therapist can start with the simplest explanation. If unable to rule out the simplest explanation, the Therapist must proceed and consider more complex issues.
Therapists are now on the frontline of medicine. Using deductive and clinical reasoning in a systematic approach will empower the Therapist to Think the Worst First.