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Debunking Seven Common Myths About Physical Therapy

Posted by Vicki on 02/20/2018

Myth: I need a referral to see a physical therapist.

Fact: All 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) allow patients to be evaluated by a physical therapist without a physician's prior referral. Click the link to check out APTA's direct access summary chart (.pdf) to see the restrictions in your state.

Myth: Physical therapy is painful. 

Fact: Physical therapists seek to minimize your pain and discomfort-including chronic or long-term pain. They work within your pain threshold to help you heal, and restore movement and function.

MythPhysical therapy is only for injuries and accidents. 

Fact: Physical therapists do a lot more than just stretch or strengthen weak muscles after an injury or surgery. They are skilled at evaluating and diagnosing potential problems before they lead to more serious injuries or disabling conditions.

Myth: Any health care professional can perform therapy.

Fact: Although 42% of consumers know that physical therapy can only be performed by a licensed physical therapist, 37% still believe other health care professionals can also administer physical therapy.

Myth: Physical therapy isn't covered by insurance.

Fact: Most insurance policies cover some form of physical therapy. Beyond insurance coverage, physical therapy has proven to reduce costs by helping people avoid unnecessary imaging scans, surgery, or prescription drugs.

Myth: Surgery is my only option.

Fact: 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.

Myth: I can do physical therapy myself.

Fact: Your participation is key to a successful treatment plan, but every patient still needs the expert care and guidance of a licensed physical therapist. Your therapist will leverage his or her specialized education, clinical expertise, and the latest available evidence to evaluate your needs and make a diagnosis before creating an individualized plan of care.


APTA. n.d. 7 Myths About Physical Therapy. Move Forward Physical Therapy Brings Motion to Life. 3/10/15. http://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resources/Detail.aspx?cid=88d27545-6154-4ba6-a844-9dbb97a0ff93#.VP8dRfnF-FW