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5 Physical Therapy Myths

Myth-busting, fact-checking: call it what you will, but it’s time that we settle the score with some common misconceptions about physical therapy and its indications.

  1. I need a prescription to start Physical Therapy.
    • False. In all 50 states, including New Jersey, you may be evaluated by a physical therapist without a referral or prescription from a doctor. Physical Therapists possess many of the same diagnostic skills as Medical Doctors and can, in fact, assist in diagnosing injury and dysfunction.
  2. Physical Therapy is just massage…right?
    • False. While manual therapies like massage, stretching, and joint mobilizations are an important part of your treatment, the buck does not stop there. Physical Therapy at Alliance Orthopedics is a comprehensive treatment that can include: individually tailored exercise programs, dry needling, laser therapy, Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill sessions, and more.
  3. I can do Physical Therapy with my personal trainer.
    • Very False. Practicing Physical Therapy in the United States requires a medical license administered by the state. Personal trainers do not possess the proper training to evaluate, diagnose, and treat injury that is required by each state’s Board of Medical Examiners. We have seen this on some unfortunate cases, ultimately with the patient getting hurt worse. Entrusting a personal trainer with your physical therapy is much like bringing a sick pet to a pediatrician: it doesn’t work.
  4. Physical Therapy only works for injuries.
    • False.Yes, Physical Therapy is clinically proven to help improve conditions like sciatica, back pain, neck pain, knee pain, hip pain, etc. However, Physical Therapists also treat patients suffering from balance deficiencies, lack of coordination, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Concussions, and more. Additionally, Phyiscal Therapists can assist those looking to improve biomechanics to maximize performance in sport and competition, or even in those looking to become active again. Injuries are only a small part of what Physical Therapy can help with.
  5. My doctor will determine how much Physical Therapy I need.
    • False. Doctors write prescriptions to recommend physical therapy. The ultimate decision for length of therapy is determined by the Physical Therapist, who will communicate with the doctor to stay on the same page and in agreement. Your Physical Therapist sees you much more often than your doctor does and has their finger on the pulse of your care. They will make the proper judgment for your discharge based on your case.
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