December 3, 2018
Physical Therapy: Common Myths vs The Truth
TruMove—promoting healthier living through movement care and education in Overland Park KS, the greater Kansas City area, and beyond.
There is a great deal of information and misinformation about physical therapy floating around—so much so that truths are questioned, misconceptions originate, and myths soon circulate. The conflicting information fosters confusion and uncertainty, perhaps even preventing some individuals from getting the care they truly need. Let’s take a few minutes to separate physical therapy fact from fiction.
Myth #1: Physical Therapy is really just massage and ultrasound.
While some physical therapists may effectively incorporate massage therapy and/or ultrasound into a patient’s plan of care, physical therapy encompasses so much more. Physical therapists are educated movement experts, skillfully assessing human movement and providing individualized interventions to address dysfunction. Goals are set and customized treatment plans are developed based not only on an individual’s physical limitations and needs, but also taking into account biological and behavioral components.
At TruMove, we understand that everyone is unique and therefore will respond uniquely to any given treatment. Thus, our physical therapists do not offer “one size fits all” treatment plans to address a diagnosis. We select and administer innovative and effective treatment options that will best serve each individual, now and in the future.
Myth #2: I need a referral from my physician for physical therapy.
It is true that in some states a doctor’s referral is needed for physical therapy. However, here in the state of Kansas, you have Direct Access to physical therapy services unless your health insurance plan specifically requires a referral. You are able to skip the visit to your doctor and come directly to us for an evaluation of your injury or movement-related limitations. Direct Access lightens the load for physicians and allows physical therapists, the movement experts, to assess and treat your movement deficits right away—not to mention that bypassing that additional doctor’s visit saves you time and money.
Myth #3: I need to consult with an orthopedic surgeon before beginning physical therapy.
TruMove physical therapists and local orthopedic surgeons work together cooperatively to improve our patients’ outcomes. We have similar training in joint assessment and our professions are the top two in detecting muscle and movement deficits. While you may hear otherwise, orthopedic surgeons do not want to operate on patients when it is not necessary. Therefore, they rely on physical therapists to address movement dysfunction with hopes of preventing patients from ending up on the operating table. If surgery is needed, orthopedic surgeons turn to physical therapists for “prehabilitation” before surgery and rehabilitation after surgery.
Research has shown that the clinical diagnostic accuracy of physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons on patients with musculoskeletal injuries was significantly greater than that of non-orthopedic providers, with both hovering around 75-80% agreement between their diagnoses and MRI results. Given the similarity in our diagnostic accuracy and the likelihood that you will need to see a physical therapist along your journey to recovery anyway, save yourself some time and money and schedule an appointment with a TruMove physical therapist. If an orthopedic surgeon’s assessment is needed, we will refer you to a good one.
Myth #4: I definitely need to get an MRI before I start physical therapy.
Imaging holds value in giving us some insight as to what is going on inside the body. However, MRIs can be misleading and unnecessarily alarming. Some body changes revealed with an MRI are simply a part of the aging process. For example, one study conducted CT scans and MRIs on people without back pain. The results were a bit surprising. Even though they were not experiencing any low back pain, the tests showed the following: among 20-year-olds, 37% had disc degeneration and 30% had a bulging disc; among 50-year-olds, 80% had disc degeneration and 60% had a bulging disc; among 80-year-olds, 96% had disc degeneration and 84% had a bulging disc. Thus, while MRIs may reveal changes occurring within the body, the changes are not necessarily the cause of your pain.
TruMove physical therapists are movement experts, focusing on how the body functions as a whole. Pain you are experiencing in one area may actually be originating from movement limitations and deficiencies in another area. Weak surrounding muscles, instability and changes in activity are all components that physical therapy will address in reducing pain and preventing future injuries. If you are experiencing movement-related pain, please schedule an evaluation with a TruMove physical therapist. If you are on the fence as to if physical therapy can help, schedule a no-obligation FREE 15-minute consultation and sit down with one of our physical therapists to discuss your condition.
Myth #5: Physical therapy is only for people with injuries.
Many people will not seek the assistance of a physical therapist unless they are injured or their chronic pain has become too much to bear. The truth of the matter is that, even when you are feeling well and without injury, a great deal can often be done to improve the way you move, keeping you healthier and maximizing your performance. Because TruMove physical therapists are movement experts, we can assess movement asymmetries and abnormalities even before pain occurs. Our bodies are very good at compensating for deficiencies to keep us moving. Unfortunately, those minor compensations can cause big problems down the road. However, if they are addressed early, your risk of injury decreases and you will notice improvement in your performance.
If you want to get more out of your workouts, maximize performance results for an athletic event or race, or simply stay mobile and active as you age, consult with a physical therapist. We at TruMove believe so strongly in the power of proper movement and its long-term benefits that we offer FREE movement screens. Just 15-minutes of your time can result in positive, healthy changes that last a lifetime. Sign up for your FREE movement screen today!
If you have any questions about your symptoms, available treatments, or how to prevent future injury, please reach out to us or visit our clinic in Overland Park, KS. We have been serving the Kansas City area for over a decade and continue to expand our outreach, always striving for Better Health Through Motion!