6 common myths about physical therapy

physical therapy patient
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There isn’t a better time to demystify physical therapy assumptions and misunderstandings than as we approach National Physical Therapy Month this October. We have heard it all, “physical therapy hurts,” “I’m not injured so I don’t need PT,” and “I can just do it myself.” These are a few examples of what we hear as we talk through the benefits of physical therapy, so today, we’re taking time to set the myths straight and provide clarity around the topic of physical therapy.

Myth 1: “Physical therapy hurts.”

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “no pain, no gain” – assuming this is a physical therapist’s motto to live by. The purpose of PT is to minimize the patients’ pain or discomfort and increase function. This is done by careful observation of the joints and how they respond through functional movement. After observation and evaluation, a program will be created uniquely for you. Everyone is different which means each individual is evaluated for range of motion, strength, balance and coordination. Physical therapists take a holistic approach by considering your overall health, occupation, habits and personality.

Myth 2: “I’m not injured, so I can’t see a physical therapist.”

Physical therapy is a great place to mitigate risk and prevent injuries. The truth is, physical therapists do more than restore physical function. They can diagnose any movement dysfunction as well as inform and prevent injuries before they begin. That being said, you do not need to have an existing injury to see a physical therapist. Be proactive!

Myth 3: “Physical therapy is way too expensive.”

Most insurance plans will cover a portion of physical therapy expenses and services. With this in mind, it’s important to also recognize that physical therapists uncover underlying issues or dysfunctions. In the long run, PT is less expensive than pain medication, lost time at work, surgery and losing out on the activities that bring you joy. Here at On-Site Solutions Physical Therapy, our services are provided by your company as a benefit to employees. We can help put together the best package for you without the hassle of having to schedule appointments outside of work hours.

Myth 4: “I can just do physical therapy myself.”

Unfortunately, you can’t – and we say that with your best interest in mind! All physical therapy exercises should be performed by a licensed professional. In order for physical therapy to be effective (and safe), it should be done by someone who is certified and not just any healthcare specialist. Only a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant can perform PT, which excludes other healthcare providers such as chiropractors and personal trainers.

Myth 5: “I need a referral before I can go.”

If you take a look at APTA’s access summary chart, you’ll notice that you can be evaluated by a physical therapist in all 50 states without a referral and it’s as simple as that. Each state may have varying restrictions but you can still take a trip to your local physical therapist. The moment you see and sign of musculoskeletal discomfort, pain or functional limitation, it’s time to see a physical therapist.

Myth 6: “Pain meds are helping, I can just keep taking them.”

Opioid addiction is a very real concern for healthcare providers. Pain medications, unless treating a chronic pain or illness and specifically prescribed for long-term use is not a long-term solution to pain. A very small percentage of people are appropriate for long-term opioids and everyone requiring pain medication should be evaluated by a physical therapist first – to determine if the underlying pain and dysfunction can be treated with PT.

There you have it, six common misunderstandings clarified. If you have any hesitations or questions about physical therapy – we would love to address and answer them. In addition, check out our FREE Stretch2Text program sample for a taste of how we can help you and your organization. Enjoy the rest of October and happy National Physical Therapy month!