7 Myths About Physical Therapy

For National Physical Therapy Month, the APTA has released “7 Myths about Physical Therapy”.

It’s time to debunk 7 common myths about physical therapy:

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

Fact: 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. In addition, 48 states and DC allow for some form of treatment or intervention without a physician referral or prescription (Oklahoma and Michigan being the exception). Beginning November 1, 2014, patients in Oklahoma will be able to seek treatment from a physical therapist without a physician referral. On January 1, 2015, patients in Michigan will be able to do so, as well.

2. 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. The survey found that although 71% of people who have never visited a physical therapist think physical therapy is painful, that number significantly decreases among patients who have seen a physical therapist in the past year.

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-Joe B


Categories: Advocacy

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5 replies »

  1. I have always heard the myth about having to get referred to a physical therapist. It is nice that you can just walk in and get help. If you are in pain, you should have every right to find someone that can help you relieve that pain.

  2. This is a good article. As an LMT the fact that we are classified as distinct from one another continues to perpetuate and serve artificial distinctions about wellness, politics, cultural aesthetics and economics. This remains a ingrained premise of education approaches. Nothing divides in order to conquer like money.

  3. Myth number 2 is so pervasive, but in my experience it’s simply not true! I’ve seen a physical therapist on several occasions throughout my life (I’ve had back problems since I was pretty young), and I can say that all of them did their best to make things as painless as possible. Was it uncomfortable every once in a while? Maybe–but the results were absolutely worth it!

  4. It seems like I was part of the 71% of people who have never visited a physical therapist and think it’ll be painful. That was actually the most common thing I heard people say about physical therapy. I wonder how many people avoid going because of this myth.

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