Whether you are newly injured or suffering from chronic pain, it’s highly likely that someone will recommend physical therapy to you. After all, physical therapy can help alleviate pain, regain strength and range of motion, and get you back on your feet. Our goal is to help you find the best physical therapist near you.
Your physician will be the one to prescribe physical therapy, but many states have direct access to physical therapy that doesn’t require a referral. Plus, if you find a good therapist, then he or she can become your go-to provider for anything related to the musculoskeletal system.
So how do you find the best physical therapist near you who is skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable? Since you may be unfamiliar with the process, our goal is to arm you with everything you need to know before choosing the right physical therapist for your needs.
But first, let’s talk about what is meant by “direct access” and how this affects you.
What is Direct Access Physical Therapy?
Did you know that nearly everyone can get physical therapy (PT) without seeing a physician beforehand? It’s one of the biggest secrets in healthcare and something you should be taking advantage of. Direct access means that a physical therapist can evaluate and treat without a physician referral as long as he/she follows the state laws.
That being said, each state has its own laws that dictate what healthcare providers can and cannot do, and that includes stipulations on direct access. Technically speaking, all 50 states have some type of direct access laws. But be aware that, even if you live in a state with direct access, several physical therapy clinics might still require a physician’s referral.
Research shows that there are several benefits to choosing PT as your first line of defense against musculoskeletal (MSK) injury. So without further ado, here are 5 tips you should know to find the best physical therapy clinic in your area.
5 Tips To Finding the Best Physical Therapist Near Me
1. Save money by visiting a physical therapy clinic that has direct access
Did you know that getting PT within the first two weeks of injury can cut your average total cost of care by 50%? Although this statistic was pulled from research on low back pain, it can certainly apply to other MSK conditions.
Experts have also calculated that people who don’t delay PT will spend about $3,000 in healthcare costs over that year. On the other hand, those who delay getting PT will spend about $6,000 per year on similar healthcare costs. Not to mention, these folks are less likely to adhere to their treatment plan by the time they get to therapy, thus further impacting recovery.
The statistics don’t lie. Find the best physical therapy clinic with direct access to save money when it comes to getting help for MSK injuries.
2. Decrease your recovery time by seeing a physical therapist first
Not only does starting with PT cut down on healthcare spending, but it also allows you to recover significantly faster. Let us explain.
Traditional referral methods usually involve your primary care physician and at least one specialist. Once your primary care physician rules out any serious conditions, you’ll be referred to an orthopedic specialist, who then may give a referral for PT. By then, your pain has worsened, you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on copays and testing, but still haven’t received actual “treatment” for the problem.
But guess what? It doesn’t end there. Don’t forget the amount of time it takes to actually see a physician appointment in the first place. A 2017 Merritt Hawkins study showed that the average physician wait time is 24 days.
Save yourself time and frustration by skipping those steps and finding a skilled physical therapist near you instead. The sooner you see your therapist, the quicker you can get started on the road to recovery.
3. PT prevents costly testing and treatment that delay healing
At some point, it’s likely that your physician will order an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI. Images like these are expensive, and often not needed to effectively treat your MSK pain or injury. They also can lead to other invasive treatments like injections, painkillers, and even surgery.
Jumping straight to these invasive treatments is a fear-based decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Understand that delayed physical therapy treatment comes with risks, like addition or further injury, and will prolong your recovery time.
By the way, did you know that people who receive PT are less likely to turn to opioids for pain management? In fact, studies show that you can decrease your odds of early opioid use by 85-91% and lower the odds of long-term use by 73-78%. These astounding numbers are proof that PT can address the problem and avoid unnecessary treatment.
4. Physical therapists share current and up-to-date information about your condition
In traditional healthcare models, you’ll often hear, “Go home, rest, and see if it gets better. Here are some muscle relaxers and Ibuprofen. Let’s see how you do.” Unsurprisingly, generic treatments like these usually don’t solve the problem. And, unless your pain resolves within the first two weeks, it’s not likely to go away on its own.
But seeing a physical therapist first for any injury alters this outdated treatment method. Because they are experts in the musculoskeletal system, you’ll receive a 1-on-1 evaluation and individualized treatment plan from your therapist. And the best part is, your physical therapist will address the problem before it becomes a chronic issue with long-term consequences.
All of this ensures that you receive the most accurate and up-to-date information on how to recover from your particular injury while avoiding the healthcare system roundabout.
5. Physical Therapy is a safe and effective form of conservative treatment
Physical therapists excel in diagnosing musculoskeletal injuries. Interestingly, one study found them to have almost the same accuracy as orthopedic surgeons despite not having access to X-ray, MRI, and CT scans. This comes in stark contrast with that of non-orthopedic providers, who are only accurate about 35% of the time.
So does that mean that seeing a physical therapist is safe? The answer is a resounding yes.
Not only are physical therapists experts in orthopedic injuries, but physical therapists are highly trained to screen for more serious problems like tumors, cancer, and other organ-related diagnoses. This fact is supported by research done on military personnel.
Due to their wide knowledge base and experience with orthopedic injuries, physical therapists know when things don’t add up. And if that’s the case, then they will refer back to your primary care physician or a specialist as needed.
How to Find The Best Physical Therapist Near You
We’ve given you a lot of information to digest. Here are the major take-home points.
- Direct access to PT challenges the status quo set by traditional referral methods. Fortunately, there is some form of direct access to PT in every state. Do your research about physical therapy clinics near you and be your own advocate to get the care you deserve.
- You don’t need to go through multiple providers and get lost in the healthcare system to get PT. Through direct access, going to PT will save you time, money, and frustration while giving you the results that you want.
- Physical therapists are highly skilled when it comes to identifying when pain is not related to the musculoskeletal system. If that happens, rest assured that your therapist will make the necessary referrals to the specialist who can help you.
Navigating the healthcare system can be challenging and frustrating. Sometimes, traditional healthcare models force you to take unnecessary steps that may not even benefit you.
But our job isn’t to overwhelm you with things that you don’t need. Instead, we’re more interested in saving you money while helping you get the answers that you do need. And we do this by flipping the way that things are done and providing excellent and high-quality care.
If you’re frustrated and tired of going through the healthcare process, then contact Peak Physiotherapy and Performance, a premier physical therapy clinic in Columbus, Ohio that offers direct access. Come see why so many people in the area look to us as their first contact provider, especially for muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve, and bone injuries. Call us today to learn more, and we look forward to helping you.
About the Author
Dr. Andrew Junak is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board-Certified Orthopedic Specialist. Dr. Junak received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Walsh University and completed his Orthopedic Specialist training at the Cleveland Clinic Orthopaedic Residency Program. He is the owner of Peak Physiotherapy and Performance, a physical therapy clinic in Canal Winchester, Ohio where he serves the local communities of Lancaster, Reynoldsburg, Grove City, Pickerington, and Columbus. In his practice, Dr. Junak helps clients with jaw pain, neck pain, and headaches find relief without resorting to medications, injections, or surgery.