Did you know that you don’t need to visit a doctor before visiting a physical therapist for treatment? While it’s true that doctors often recommend that their patients treat their pain and injuries with physical therapy, you also have the option to visit a physical therapist without going through a doctor first. This is all thanks to the Direct Access policy.
What is Direct Access?
As of January 1, 2015, all U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands grant patients the ability to seek some level of treatment from a physical therapist without needing a referral from a physician beforehand. The full extent of what services you can seek from your physical therapist without physician referral varies from state to state.
Some states still require you to seek a referral before treatment for certain conditions and injuries. You can check your state’s Direct Access policy here before scheduling an appointment with our team for treatment or visiting your physician.
What are the benefits of Direct Access?
Direct Access is beneficial for patients like you in many ways, including:
- Direct Access removes hurdles from your treatment process — Waiting for a physician’s referral before being able to receive treatment means you have to suffer from pain and limited range of motion for longer. Direct Access allows you to receive the treatment you need right away, so you spend less time in pain and more time in recovery.
- Direct Access physical therapy is safe — Some people are concerned that a physical therapist is incapable of diagnosing conditions. This is far from the truth. Physical therapists receive extensive training in diagnosing the source of your pain and developing personalized treatments that help. Physical therapists have very low rates of malpractice, and states with full Direct Access show no increase in malpractice suits than states without strict regulations.
- Direct Access lowers your overall health care costs — Removing the step of visiting a physician before receiving physical therapy saves you from spending money on the physician visit.
- Direct Access helps you reduce dependency on medication — Physicians sometimes prescribe or recommend pain medication as a treatment option before referring you to a physical therapist. Often, this can be detrimental to your recovery quality because pain medications can be addictive and cause unwanted side effects.
Treating your pain with physical therapy instead of medication helps you manage your pain and recover faster without the risk of addiction or side effects.
Schedule an appointment today
Our team is highly trained and skilled in diagnosing your pain and developing personalized treatments to help you reach your recovery goals. The goal of our treatments is to help reduce and prevent pain using methods like:
- Therapeutic exercises
- Gentle stretches
- Joint mobilization
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Posture guidance
- Patient education and more
If you are ready to exercise your right to Direct Access and start your treatment journey today, our physical therapists are ready to help. Find a location near you today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.