Physical Therapy Frequently Asked Questions

Physical therapists work with injured or ill patients who need assistance recovering physical function or range of motion. They also work with athletes and other individuals who are interested in preventing loss of movement, injury or surgery, as a physical therapist, like from AmeriWell Clinics, can explain. If you believe you may benefit from the services of a physical therapist, but have questions about how to proceed, this guide may provide some answers.

Who Can Provide a Diagnosis?

Physical therapists are not allowed to provide a medical diagnosis in most states. You will usually need to start with your primary care physician. If your physician can not diagnose your issue, she may refer you to another doctor or order additional tests. Once your condition has been diagnosed, you may receive a referral to a physical therapist as part of your treatment plan.

What Are the Benefits of Physical Therapy?

Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to treat neuro-musculoskeletal disorders and movement issues. Working with a physical therapist can reduce or control pain, restore range of motion and improve physical function. Your physical therapist may also help you strengthen muscles and improve flexibility in ways that help prevent future issues. People at high risk for certain injuries may benefit from injury prevention programs.

What Types of Treatments Are Provided?

The bulk of physical therapy treatment is exercise and functional training. Patients will usually schedule one or more appointments weekly to perform these exercises in the physical therapist’s office. The therapist may also employ techniques, such as massage, ultrasound, joint mobilization or the application of heat and cold to improve joint and muscle movement.

Additionally, therapists educate patients on lifestyle changes that can help them recover from their current condition and avoid future issues. They may also provide an exercise routine to be performed in the patient’s home. For some conditions, therapists may advise patients on the use of assistive devices, such as canes, braces and walkers.

Is Physical Therapy Covered by Insurance?

Most health insurance covers some types of physical therapy if they are considered necessary to treat or prevent a covered medical condition. Depending on the terms of your policy, you may or may not need a referral from your primary care doctor to receive coverage.

In most cases, physical therapists can not provide a medical diagnosis. However, they can provide beneficial treatment for many kinds of physical disorders. Contact your primary care physician for a diagnosis if you believe you may be able to benefit from physical therapy.