7 Myths About Physical Therapy - via MoveForwardPT.com & the APTA
You can view the whole list in detail HERE, it's a good read and many of these are things that I have commented on in recent past.
Here are the 7 Common Myths as they have listed them. Comments below each listed are my own, and I encourage you to read the Fact responses to each at the link above:
1. Myth: I need a referral to see a physical therapist
Nevada is a Direct Access State, meaning that a physician's referral is not required to see a physical therapist. HOWEVER, there is still a level of control held by the insurance companies in which most will require you to obtain a physician's referral in order to cover it. If you are not billing insurance (as we do not), then you do not need to obtain a referral for PT, in most cases saving you the trip to your primary care physician and allowing you to start PT faster!)
2. Myth: Physical therapy is painful.
You often start physical in pain. The goal of physical therapy is to get you out of pain, and able to move and function without it. The first step in the process is discussing what pain is & is not, where pain comes from, what purpose it serves, and how we can get you beyond it.
3. Myth: Physical therapy is only for injuries and accidents.
You can see a physical therapist for an injury, after an accident, after a surgery. You can ALSO see a Physical Therapist for all of your wellness needs. Wellness to most people means exercise & nutrition, so it is important to seek out a physical therapist who is knowledgeable in these areas or works in a team setting to get you the best results. You can also be seen for general maintenance - we change the oil & rotate the tires on our car to keep it moving and performing well, why would we not treat our bodies the same? A combination of good orthopedic manual therapy, dry needling, and tailored exercise can keep you moving and performing at your best. Why wait to see a physical therapist because you have an orthopedic problem when you have the option of avoiding the orthopedic problem all together!
4. Myth: Any health care professional can perform physical therapy.
All health care professionals can not perform physical therapy. If they are not a licensed physical therapist, they are not performing physical therapy. Please remember that physical therapy is a Profession, it is not just a collection of thermal & electo-modalities. What that means is Physical Therapy is not heat/ice, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and massage. In fact, if this is essentially the treatment you are receiving in a clinic, you need to RUN, not walk, RUN to another provider. I often here patients tell me they received physical therapy in their physicians office, only to find out that it was one or two of the above mentioned modalities. Surprised that after a few 'in-house' treatments they were still in pain and dealing with the same issues -- I'm not.
5. Myth: Physical therapy isn't covered by insurance.
This is the only Myth/Fact I would be careful on. Physical therapy coverage is highly dependent on the insurance carrier you have. They set the rules in your plan, so verification of benefits before you start treatment is recommended. Again, Athletes Physiotherapy is an out-of-network provider, so we do not deal in this realm often. Our patients can submit a claim to their insurance in many cases, but what & if you get reimbursed depends on all of the same details - do you have an out-of-network deductible/copay/coinsurance??
6. Myth: Surgery is my only option.
There is a growing body of literature suggesting that physical therapy may be at least as good as surgery for many orthopedic conditions. The best plan is usually to exhaust all conservative care measures first, and if there is no response and surgery is recommended, then in some cases that is the only option. However, these cases are far less frequent that one might imagine. There are certain 'Red Flags' that are looked for when your physical therapist or physician first evaluates you, which may be an indicator that surgery is required as the immediate treatment option. In this case the physician will explain what they are finding and why surgery is necessary. It is not uncommon in clinic to have patients who are told they need surgery, for example on their shoulder, but are referred to physical therapy and make significant improvement to where they did not end up having the surgery. We don't treat your MRI or x-ray films, we treat you - the person. That's a whole other topic altogether!
7. Myth: I can do physical therapy myself.
Ah, yes. While a 'Can Do' attitude is a great thing in most cases, this is not one of them. Seeking out evaluation and treatment from a qualified practitioner is the best way to ensure a speedy & full recovery. Understand that I am not taking way a person's ability to be active in their own care, the responsibility is yours as the patient. What I am suggesting is that you look at it like a coaching relationship. Even Tiger Woods and most Pro Athletes who have been in their game for decades still have coaches to help them improve. You may be able to do much of your PT program on your own (many of my patients only see me 1x/week) but having the evaluation/screening and foundation built, and receiving guidance on where to put your efforts -- these are the things that are missing when we go it on our own!
Hope that helps to start clearing up the misconceptions that exist around physical therapy. It is a big topic, with lots of variables!
~ K. Bosch
Athletes Physiotherapy - Las Vegas, NV
Thank you for stopping by the Athletes Physiotherapy Blog! Kristopher Bosch founded Athletes Physiotherapy in Las Vegas, NV. He is a Father, physical therapist, athletic trainer, pilates teacher, & perpetual student!
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