Four Myths About Physical Therapy
1. Physical therapy is painful.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say, “does physical therapy stand for physical torture?” I would be a rich man. Physical therapy should in fact very rarely be painful. Contrary to popular belief, Physical therapy is intended to reduce or abolish pain and not create or increase one’s level of pain. Yes, there are times and treatments that may cause brief periods of discomfort or residual soreness, but you should experience very little pain at the time of treatment or anytime after your session. If you do experience an increase in pain, it is important to communicate this to your therapist immediately.
2. Physical therapy treatments provide only temporary changes.
There is nothing further from the truth. Physical therapy does in fact result in long term changes in pain, mobility and function. In addition, Physical therapy can allow you to stop taking pain medication and reduce unnecessary injections or surgeries. Now, lets be clear, a few hours of physical therapy a week is not enough. You must supplement your physical therapy with a complete, individualized home exercise program and a daily commitment to your health.
3. Any healthcare professional can perform physical therapy, or all Physical Therapists are the same.
There are many different healthcare providers claiming to be able to perform physical therapy. However, did you know that to become a licensed Physical Therapist in the United States, you must hold a Doctorate Degree. A Physical Therapist completes 7 years of education. All Physical Therapists complete a rigorous Doctoral program and are equipped to begin to treat patients, however, Physical Therapists vary in their skill sets, post doctorate educational levels and certifications as well as experience. We highly recommend you seek a licensed Physical Therapist that performs hands on, manual physical therapy and holds a Board Certification or regularly participates in continuing education. Don’t be afraid to ask about your therapist prior to your evaluation.
4. A Doctors referral is necessary prior to seeing a Physical Therapist.
In most cases, a Physicians referral is not necessary to be evaluated by a Physical Therapist. Although some insurances require a referral, many do not and often an initial evaluation is allowed prior to obtaining a referral. If you are not using your insurance, a referral is not necessary for the first 12 visits or 45 days, whichever occurs first. Laws vary from state to state, so be sure to consult your local physical therapy office.