Do I have Direct Access to a Physical Therapist?

WHAT IS DIRECT ACCESS AND WHY DOES IT MATTER TO ME?

Direct access means you can go straight to a physical therapist when you have an injury. You do not need a physician’s referral or prescription to start, which can make it more cost effective for you!

Have you had a “nagging” headache, back ache or shoulder pain that frequents you weekly but you never get around to scheduling a visit with the primary care provider? YOU NEED A PHYSICAL THERAPIST!

What does the research say?

For example, low back pain affects 60-80% of individuals at some point in their life. A recent study from Fritz et al compared individuals with LBP who went directly to physical therapy versus seeing their primary care provider or physiatrist first. The physical therapy group had decreased need for radiographs (16%) spinal injections (2%) and surgery (0%), in turn reducing LBP costs, compared to the PCP and Physiatry group resulting in radiographs (62%), injections (31%) and surgery (9.6%).

Why is that important?

If you have a co-pay every time you see your primary care physician, medical bills can add up! If you aren’t seeking a pharmaceutical prescription and your injury seems musculoskeletal or neuromuscular in nature (ie elbow tendinitis, low back pain, sciatica, rotator cuff tear or injury, plantar fasciitis, arthritis) a Physical Therapist might be the better place to start.

Can a Physical therapist diagnose my condition?

Diagnosing musculoskeletal injuries is part of the functional practice of physical therapy. Physical therapists are trained to screen for medical red flags and know when to refer out to the appropriate medical professional if it is out of their scope of practice.

What if I need an MRI or X-ray?

Physical Therapist have a multitude of special tests to screen for injuries such as tendinitis, osteoarthritis, impingement, labral tears, joint dysfunctions, disc pathologies and radiculopathies. Again, after an initial evaluation, if your therapist think imaging is necessary, they will refer you to your primary care provider or the appropriate medical professional.

Keep in mind MRI’s and X-rays can show joint dysfunction and lesions in the muscle or tissue but they do not show PAIN. Physical therapists focus on the pain and use their knowledge based on the disablement model to address the primary cause of the pain to avoid reoccurrence.

Would I benefit from direct access?

In conclusion, based on your injury or condition, you may benefit from direct access to your primary physical therapist! We are accepting patients now at Active Physical Therapy for direct access patients. Follow the link below to contact us or ask further questions http://www.activeptcolumbus.com/contact/

dr melissa gallow DPT

Written by:

Missy Gallow, DPT

Active Physical Therapy

Hilliard, OH

 

References

Fritz, M. J., Kim, J., and Dorius J. (2015). Importance of type of provider seen to begin healthcare for a new episode of low back pain: associations with future utilization of costs. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice ISSN 1365-2753

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