Physical Therapy Myths & Truths

Physical Therapy Myths & Truths hover background

Sep 13

Today we are debunking some common physical therapy myths. Like any professional field, it is easy to have misconceptions about physical therapy, including both what it is and what it is not.

Many people with no prior therapy treatment misinterpret what we can do for them. Physical therapists are expert professionals who improve the movement of injured or ill people and help them manage their pain.

Moreover, they can go well beyond stretching and reducing pain. Physical therapists are also experts when it comes to helping you stay healthy and fit and avoid injury as you age.

Here are some common physical therapy myths and their associated truths.

Physical Therapy Myths

#1. Myth: Physical therapy will cause me more pain

Therapists seek to limit the discomfort you feel during therapy within your pain threshold. A survey from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) found that 71% of people presume physical therapy to be painful having themselves never undergone through a therapy. This percentage later decreased significantly among those patients who visited a therapist in the past year.

#2. Myth: A referral is needed before seeing a physical therapist

APTA revealed that 70% of the people think a prescription is required for assessment by a physical therapist. However, that is just a misconception. You can get a physical therapist’s evaluation without any prior referral from a physician. All 50 states along with the District of Columbia (DC) allow for a physical therapist’s evaluation without a physician’s referral beforehand.

In the state of Arizona, Direct Access allows you to seek a physical therapist of your choice without a referral from a primary care provider.

[Related article: 3 Tips For Communicating With Your Physical Therapist]

#3. Myth: Physical therapy is passive

While it is not false that physical therapy often includes its special routines to reduce pain and restore movement, your full participation is also a must. You need to be committed in the form of exercises that requires specific therapeutic movements while you are in physical therapy. Like most of the improvement sessions, you are the one in control of your recovery process; therapists are there just to provide you with proper guidance.

More Physical Therapy Myths

#4. Myth: Physical therapy can be performed by any health care professional

Although the majority (42% of the participants) believe that one should only perform his/her therapy through a licensed physical therapist, 37% still believe that other professional in healthcare sector can also provide physical therapy. Despite having some similar treatments on their list, only a licensed therapist can provide you with a guaranteed therapy.

#5. Myth: I can do physical therapy by myself

While therapists essentially teach you successful and effective self-care, you need to rely on a therapist’s professional guidance and care at first phases (or even later on). Your therapist’s clinical expertise along with experiences of a number of cases is critical to developing an individualized plan of care. After that, your physical therapist may send you home with an at-home program to follow.

#6: Insurances don’t cover my physical therapy

Most insurance companies’ policies cover some forms of physical therapy. In addition, it is true is that physical therapy can help reduce the need for additional medical expenses such as needless surgeries, prescription drugs or possibly additional medical testing and scans. Physical therapy can also help you avoid huge costs for your issue by addressing it before it turns chronic.

#7. Myth: Physical therapy is no different than massage

While massage may be one component of your treatment, it is not the same as physical therapy. Therapists are seasoned in the human body’s mechanics and thus provide specialty programs that care more in-depth than just muscle massage.

[Related article: Benefits of Scraping Therapy]

Physical therapists can help you in more situations than you may at first know or believe. The physical therapy team at Above & Beyond Physical Therapy can help you not only recover from surgery or illness or find healthy ways to manage chronic disease, but they can also help you find ways to stay healthy and avoid injury as you age.

To see what physical therapy can do for you, contact us today.


Queen Creek Location
21321 E. Ocotillo Rd., Suite 122
Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Ph: 480.987.1870
F: 480.987.9289

3201 W. Peoria Ave., Suite D800
Phoenix, AZ 85029
Ph: 602.866.2231
F: 602.866.2261