Common Myths about Physical Therapy

By: Dr. Jeanette Kochman, PT, DPT, OCS

Physical therapists help people of all ages and abilities reduce pain, improve or restore mobility, and stay active and fit throughout life. We encourage everyone to take advantage of physical therapy services at Lifeline.  

There are some common myths about physical therapy that may deter people.

Myth #1: I need a referral to see a physical therapist.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) allow patients to be evaluated by a physical therapist without a physician’s prior referral. In Pennsylvania, you can then be treated for up to 30 days without a prescription (when the therapist has a “direct access” certificate of authorization). All Lifeline therapists have this certificate.

Myth #2: Physical therapy is painful.
Physical therapists have a goal of minimizing your pain and discomfort—including chronic or long-term pain. Though some treatments can be painful while they are administered, the therapist will work within your pain threshold doing only what you can tolerate. The discomfort you may experience during a treatment will bring you relief of pain afterwards.

Myth #3: Physical therapy is only for injuries and accidents.
Though physical therapists rehabilitate people after injuries and accidents, we are also skilled at evaluating and diagnosing potential problems before they lead to more serious injuries or disabling conditions.  So if you are having pain, losing strength or balance, or losing your ability to function, consult with one of Lifeline’s physical therapists.

Myth #4: Any health care professional can perform physical therapy.
Physical therapy can only be provided by a licensed physical therapist.  Physical therapist assistants and physical therapy aides can assist with treatments under the direction of the licensed therapist. Many physical therapists also pursue board certification in specialty areas such as geriatrics, orthopedics, sports, or cardio-pulmonary.  Several of Lifeline’s physical therapists are board certified specialists.

Myth #5: Physical therapy isn’t covered by insurances.
Most insurance policies cover physical therapy. It is best to check with your particular provider prior to treatment to find out if you will have any out of pocket costs, or if you have a policy visit limit. As a courtesy, Lifeline will verify your benefits for you prior to your evaluation. 

Myth #6: Surgery is my only option.
In many cases, physical therapy has been shown to be as effective as surgery in treating a wide range of conditions—from rotator cuff tears and degenerative disk disease, to meniscal tears and some forms of knee osteoarthritis. Those who have recently seen a physical therapist know this to be true. Lifeline therapists have good outcomes with these types of conditions.

Myth #7: I can do physical therapy myself.
Every patient still needs the expert care and guidance of a licensed physical therapist. Once your pain is well controlled, and you are functioning better, your therapist will prescribe specific exercises for you to continue doing on your own to manage your condition.  

Now that you know all of this, call us for an appointment at any of our 5 locations so we can help you stay active and fit!

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