Don’t believe everything you hear—especially when it comes to physical therapy.
By Lily Beltran
Physical therapy is an effective form of care that helps patients reduce pain, improve mobility, and stay active for a lifetime. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about physical therapy that prevent people from ever pursuing treatment. Today, we’re going to help you determine whether physical therapy is right for you by debunking four of the most common physical therapy myths.
Myth #1: Physical Therapy is a Waste of Time
Most people go to physical therapy to relieve pain and get back to doing the things that they love. If they’ve been going to physical therapy with high hopes but no real results, it makes sense for them to feel that physical therapy is a waste of time. The truth is, not all physical therapy clinics and services are created equal. PT clinics offering outdated methods and disimpassioned physical therapists are probably a waste of time. Physical therapy, as a whole, is not.
Getting the results you want from physical therapy depends entirely on the quality of care you receive and your willingness to follow through with your treatment plan. To succeed with physical therapy, you need quality time with a highly qualified physical therapist (not just an aide) and true support in following through with treatment. If you are starting to think that physical therapy is a waste of time, it might be time to find a better physical therapy solution.
Myth #2: Physical Therapy Requires a Doctor’s Referral or Prescription
The myth that you need to see a physician and get a physical therapy prescription in order to receive care is understandable, as the rules vary from state to state. In most places, however, patients can legally receive physical therapy without a prescription through something called direct access. This means you can start physical therapy treatment as soon as possible, no referral or prescription required.
Not only is it possible to receive physical therapy without a prescription, pursuing physical therapy as a first step in your treatment is often a good idea. Early intervention of physical therapy can help you save money, reach better outcomes, and avoid unnecessary surgeries or medication.
One important thing to keep in mind is that some insurance companies require a doctor referral to cover your care. Blue Shields patients, for example, can see a therapist for up to 12 visits without a referral. To avoid paying out of pocket, give your insurance company a call prior to receiving any treatment. Or, find an awesome PT solution that will handle that heavy lifting for you.
Myth #3: Insurance Doesn’t Cover Physical Therapy
If you have health insurance, you most likely have access to physical therapy services. Whether or not physical therapy is fully or partially covered by your insurance depends on the specific benefits that your plan offers. Most insurance plans pay for physical therapy if it is medically necessary and offered by an in-network physical therapist. Federally qualified HMOs are required to have physical therapy as a part of their benefits packages.
Depending on your insurance plan, physical therapy co-pays range between $20 to $50 or more. Medicare, for example, offers patients access to unlimited physical therapy services as long as they are demonstrated to be medically necessary. If you need physical therapy and have no insurance, the average cost of physical therapy treatment out of pocket is $150 per session. At Luna, our self-pay rate is $125 per visit.
At Luna, we work closely with insurance companies like Blue Shield, Medicare, Aetna, and Tricare to offer in-network physical therapy care to our patients. You can also choose a flat fee of $125 per appointment if you are opting to pay out of pocket.
Myth #4: I Can Do Physical Therapy Myself
If you’ve been wondering how to do physical therapy on yourself, stop while you’re ahead. Physical therapy is a form of care that can only be performed effectively by a licensed physical therapist. Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who have been trained to diagnose and treat a range of functional issues. While recovery depends on your active participation, choosing to diagnose yourself and come up with your own treatment plan is unlikely to result in physical therapy success. So instead of DIYing your care, find a licensed physical therapist who will leverage their education, expertise, and experience to evaluate your condition and create an effective treatment plan.