Myths About Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are experts on movement, and they’re also experts on reducing pain, improving your mobility or helping you reach a higher level of mobility than you currently have on your own. They want to see you stay active throughout your life, and… well, we’re here to tell you about some common myths and misconceptions about physical therapists that plague physical therapy centers such as AmeriWell.

“You need to be referred to see a physical therapist.”

This is the first myth we’re going to tackle. Did you know that the American Physical Therapy Association found out that 70% think they’re required to have a prescription or referral to be evaluated by a physical therapist? This is not true! You do not need another physician’s referral to be evaluated by any physical therapist. Some states do have restrictions regarding what a physical therapist can provide to you without a referral, so you’ll want to check your state’s restrictions. The point is, a physical therapist can see you and evaluate you. After that evaluation, dependent upon your state’s restrictions, you may then need a referral if your condition is determined to be beyond the scope of what your state allows your therapist to do without working alongside a doctor.

“Physical therapy is painful, it’s more pain than anything else.”

Physical therapy is often sought to minimize the pain you feel—so if your therapy is causing you more pain, you should let your therapist know that’s not working for you. They want to work with your pain threshold so that you can heal, restore your movement and function and have a relatively painless life. The same survey that was mentioned above learned that 71% of people who have never been to a physical therapist thought the physical therapist would cause them more pain.

“You should only see a physical therapist if you’re injured or in an accident.”

That’s a total lie! Physical therapists do more than just stretch tendons and strengthen muscles after accidents. They can evaluate and diagnose potential problems before they become worse and cause disabling conditions or injuries. This applies to things as simple as carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic headaches, lower back pain and so much more.

“Anyone in health care can perform physical therapy.”

Some stats first—42% of consumers know that physical therapists have to have a license, yet 37% still believe that any health care professional can administer physical therapy. That doesn’t add up! Many physical therapists have specialties, pursue board certifications in areas like orthopedics, neurology, sports, or even women’s health. Typically, they want to be certified in the area they’re focusing on, as this helps their client base be less varied and lets them focus on a passion of theirs.

“Your insurance won’t cover physical therapy.”

That’s so wrong, we don’t even know where to start. Most insurance will cover some form of physical therapy—and beyond insurance, physical therapy has proven to reduce your medical costs because it helps you avoid unnecessary imaging, scans, surgery, and drugs. Physical therapy can also help you avoid falling and becoming injured, or by catching a condition and treating it before it becomes chronic.