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Top Misconceptions About Physical Therapy in Denver

April 18, 2018

As Denver physical therapy gains in both respect and popularity, there are still plenty of misconceptions about it. Many people just don’t understand exactly what physical therapists do, what type of certification they need, where they practice, and how different types of physical therapy can vary. Others simply see physical therapists as glorified personal trainers or massage therapists because they don’t realize that there are vigorous education requirements, licensing, and specializations that go along with the field. Others believe that physical therapy only comes into play after undergoing a serious injury or having some kind of major surgery.

The following are some of the most common misconceptions people have about physical therapy.

Any Healthcare Professional Can Practice Physical Therapy

False. Many people don’t realize that physical therapy must be performed by a licensed physical therapist. Physical therapists must have a license, and there are almost always additional certifications needed for specialties such as manual therapy, vestibular therapy, pelvic floor treatment, and others.

Physical Therapists Work in the Hospital Setting Only

False. When most people think of physical therapy, they might be picturing a person in a white uniform conducting therapeutic exercises with a person lying down in a hospital setting. There is much more to physical therapy than that, including functional activities that are conducted in a variety of locations. Some physical therapists do work in hospitals, but others work in offices, make house calls, see patients in nursing homes, visit rehabilitation centers, and a variety of other places. Basically, physical therapists work in virtually every healthcare environment.

There is Just One Type of Physical Therapy Offered

False. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Just as you can find physical therapists in many different settings, they use different types of therapies depending on many factors, including the type of patient and the condition of the patient.

WebMD has a good article on the various types of physical therapy available where you can get more information on the various specialties.

You Cannot See a Physical Therapist Until You See Your Doctor and Get a Referral

False. This might be true in some areas, but overall, people do not need a referral from their doctor to see a physical therapist. In many cases, patients don’t see their doctor at all; the physical therapist diagnosis the problem, recommends treatment, provides treatment, and discharges the patient. This provides an advantage for patients who would like to see a physical therapist of their own choosing.

Patients Should Experience a Lot of Pain and Discomfort Before It Is “Worth It” to See a Physical Therapist

False. For some people, they think physical therapy is only for patients who are rehabbing after surgery or a major injury. But the truth is, coming to the physical therapist at the first sign of pain is one way to get the best results. It’s best to prevent the pain from getting worse by early intervention rather than waiting until the pain is so bad, patients are experiencing serious discomfort. It’s particularly important for those who are pursuing athletic activities to get treatment sooner rather than later.

If you are a runner experiencing discomfort that it preventing you from logging the miles you’d like, find out more about our running analysis and how it can help improve your running and prevent injuries.

Physical Therapy Offers Just One Approach to Healing Patients

False. It might come as a surprise to many people to understand that physical therapy often goes along with other treatments, including massage and manual therapy. Your physical therapist will develop a treatment plan that includes therapeutic exercise and other modalities. This makes movement even more effective.

Physical Therapy Is Only Used After Patients Have Had Some Kind of Surgical Procedure

False. In fact, physical therapy is often prescribed prior to surgery because it might mean surgery isn’t necessary at all. The surgery first, physical therapy second mindset is actually counterproductive. Physical therapy has proven over and over to be as effective as surgery—or even more effective—for certain musculoskeletal conditions.

Physical Therapy Has to Be Painful if It Is Going to Be Effective

False. There is a joke among some patients that “PT” means “pain and torture,” but this is misleading. Sometimes when people have suffered an injury, there can be pain associated with rehabbing that part of the body. But in and of itself, physical therapy is generally not painful.

Diet, Exercise, and Lifestyle Have Nothing to Do With How Successful Physical Therapy Is

False. Unfortunately, there is no way around the importance of exercising and eating right if you want your physical therapy to be successful. Habits such as smoking and being overweight can significantly impede physical therapy progress. Just as you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, you can’t use physical therapy to compensate for an unhealthy lifestyle. In many cases, patients find out the hard way that physical therapy isn’t effective until they clean up their lifestyles and start adopting good healthy habits.

As the field of physical therapy continues to grow, it’s important that patients gain a more accurate understanding of this burgeoning specialty. If you have questions, we invite you to give us a call. Peak Physical Therapy has been in business for more than two decades. We believe our success directly correlates with the lasting results our patients enjoy. We are confident in our team of friendly and knowledgeable therapists and their commitment to improving how much you can enjoy your daily life.

Find out about Denver physical therapy and whether it—or any of our other services—will help you. We offer TMJ treatment, dry needling, hand therapy, injury risk assessment, kinesio taping, manual therapy, running analysis, and TRX training among others. With offices throughout the Denver metro area, including south Denver, Highlands Ranch, Lowry, Parker, Aurora, and Englewood, you can be sure that one is conveniently located near you. We look forward to working with you and helping you return to a normal, pain-free lifestyle! Call us today!