myth and facts

Physical Therapy Myths Debunked

The main goal of physical therapy is to restore your function and mobility, and eliminate or minimize your pain so you can get back to your active lifestyle. People everywhere are experiencing the transformative effect physical therapy can have on their daily lives. In fact, as experts in the way the body moves, physical therapists help people of all ages and abilities reduce their pain, improve or restore mobility, and stay active and fit throughout life.

A customized physical therapy program can help individuals return to their prior level of functioning, and encourage activities and lifestyle changes that can help prevent further injury and improve overall health and well-being. Primary care doctors often refer patients for physical therapy at the first sign of a problem, since it is considered a traditional approach to managing problems.

Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who offer cost-effective treatment to improve mobility and relieve pain, reduce the need for surgery and prescription drugs, allowing patients to participate in a recovery plan designed for their specific needs. However, often people tend to want to believe a myth, advice that is simply untrue. Here are 7 myths where believing them can be detrimental to your health if not dispelled.

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

A recent survey by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) revealed 70% of people think a referral or prescription is required for evaluation by a physical therapist. However, all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) allow patients to be evaluated by a physical therapist without a physician’s prior referral. Some states have restrictions about the treatment a physical therapist can provide without a physician referral.

2. Myth: Physical therapy is painful.

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. Physical therapy can be somewhat painful depending on the type of injury, but it relieves pain.

3. Myth: Physical therapy is only for injuries and accidents.

Physical therapists do a lot more than just stretch or strengthen weak muscles after an injury or surgery. They are skilled at knowing the functional movement and limitations of the musculoskeletal system. They evaluate and diagnose potential problems before they lead to more serious injuries or disabling conditions, from carpal tunnel syndrome and frozen shoulder, to chronic headaches and lower back pain.

4. Myth: Any health care professional can perform physical therapy.

Although people know that physical therapy can only be performed by a licensed physical therapist, many people still believe other health care professionals can also administer physical therapy. Many physical therapists also pursue board certification in specific areas such as neurology and orthopedics.

5. Myth: Physical therapy isn’t covered by insurance.

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. Physical therapy can also lower costs by helping patients avoid falls or by addressing conditions before they become chronic.

6. Myth: 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, degenerative disk diseases to knee osteoarthritis. Those who have recently seen a physical therapist know this to be true, as physical therapy can provide an alternative to surgery.

7. Myth: I can do physical therapy myself.

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.

If you would like to learn more about the availability and benefits of physical therapy to treat existing pain or for recovery from injury, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence today, at (719) 623-1050. We look forward to helping you get the best possible treatment for an optimal lifestyle.