Five Common Misconceptions that keep Patients from Getting Physical Therapy FIRST

In this era of “fake news,” knowing where to get the right information can be a challenge. This fake news makes it easy to understand why patients might have the wrong idea about physical therapy.  After all, these misconceptions can quickly snowball.  With that in mind, I’ve decided to tackle a few points of confusion that may keep patients from choosing PT FIRST.

Do I need a referral to see a physical therapist?

No!  Patients may be evaluated, and receive treatment from, a physical therapist without obtaining a referral or seeing a physician first.  This also means a current patient, who loves his or her therapist, can refer friends and family directly to that therapist.  It also means that a prospective patient searching for health information and therapy provider options online can go directly to any physical therapist he or she discovers!  There might be limitations to this but those are solely based on insurance types (such as having an HMO).

Are physical therapist’s doctors?

In most cases, yes!  Although many physical therapists may not refer to themselves as such, all physical therapy education programs are now doctoral-level.  This means all new PTs entering the workforce are doctors of physical therapy.  In fact, all therapist that work at Intecore Physical Therapy hold Doctorate Degrees!  While there are still therapists practicing with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, many of these have also gone on to earn transitional doctorates.

Is physical therapy only appropriate for people who have been seriously injured?

No!  Physical therapy is beneficial for all manners of care, including diabetes management, cardiovascular health, pain management, and preventive care. The physical therapy scope of practice allows licensed therapists to evaluate and treat individuals for existing musculoskeletal conditions and catch potential problems before they negatively impact your daily life.

Is bed rest a better solution for pain and injury than physical therapy?

NO!!  As a kid, there was no better cure for anything that ailed you than skipping school and a bowl of chicken noodle soup.  As an adult, you know that musculoskeletal injury requires a little more comprehensive intervention than soup and skipping school. Actually, prolonged stationary periods can cause muscle stiffness and atrophy as well as loss of tendon flexibility—all of which could lead to reinjury later on.

Why choose PT when massage therapy, chiropractic care, or personal training is cheaper?

People compare physical therapists to massage therapists, chiropractors, and personal trainers— massage therapists, personal trainers, and Chiropractors provide services that are complementary to physical therapy. However, of those four types of professionals, only one focuses on movement and restoration of the entire body and is fully qualified to evaluate, diagnose, and provide treatment to restore musculoskeletal function. (Hint: It’s physical therapists.)

In the Information Age, it is easy to be misinformed. Many people do not know the answers to these questions, but knowing how much a physical therapist can do for you can’t be construed as “fake!”

Andrew Vertson