A Body One Series: PT Myth Busting Part III

There are many common myths about physical therapy that you may have heard, and we’re here to bust them! In our final myth-busting article, you’ll learn the reality behind common misconceptions – and the way physical therapy really works and works to help you get better.

“My shoulder feels a little stiff. You’re a physical therapist; can’t you just give me a massage?” 

It’s a question that almost every physical therapist has heard from family and friends at one point or another. We can often laugh it off, but the underlying issue is not that our friends want a free massage but that many people don’t fully understand the depth of physical therapy. There are plenty of common myths about PT that you’ve probably heard, and here are some of them:

Myth #5: Surgery is the only thing that will fix me. I’m only here because my doctor told me I had to come.


Some injuries and conditions may need surgery, sure, but there are a vast number of conditions that will have very successful outcomes with conservative management with PT. The condition you may be experiencing may arise from an anatomical issue, but it may not be the source of the pain. In reality, a lot of conditions, such as torn shoulder labrums or knee arthritis, have been going on for a while but weren’t necessarily painful until recently. So it’s not the arthritis that is causing the pain; it could be the underlying muscle weakness or inflexibility. Working with your Physical Therapist to build strength, flexibility, and better positioning with activities is likely to improve your pain without ever having to get surgery.

Myth #6: I have to have an injury to go to PT.


PT isn’t just for the athletes with an injury or for the post-surgical shoulder. PT is for everyone! Whether your goal is to return to sports, prevent future injuries, improve balance, reduce fall risk, or even to just improve function, you can find success with PT! Physical Therapists treat everyone from newborn babies to centenarians, from Olympic athletes to learning how to exercise for the first time. Your Physical Therapist won’t expect you to do more than you are able; they will meet you on your level and help you establish and reach YOUR goals.

Myth #7: I need a referral from my physician to see a Physical Therapist.


In the state of Indiana, unless you are insured through Medicare, you can see your Physical Therapist via direct access for up to 6 weeks before needing a referral from a physician. This privilege allows you to get into PT quicker to help advance your recovery even faster. Physical Therapists have the knowledge and expertise to differentially diagnose musculoskeletal conditions and refer to the appropriate specialist if necessary.

Myth #8: I need a diagnosis from my Physical Therapist in order to get better.


It may seem important to have a concrete diagnosis, such as rotator cuff tendonitis, in order to benefit from PT. But in reality, your Physical Therapist won’t treat the diagnosis—they’ll treat the impairments. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you have an MRI that shows rotator cuff tendonitis; if you have weakness in your rotator cuff, that’s what your Physical Therapist will be treating. Images and diagnoses often don’t correlate with symptoms, so having a written diagnosis shouldn’t actually affect treatment. Your Physical Therapist has knowledge and skills to perform a proper evaluation and will be able to help you improve even without imaging or a diagnosis.

Physical therapy has a lot more substance than just a massage or a couple of short-term stretches. Your physical therapist has extensive knowledge of the human body, and their goal is to help you improve your body and mindset to be the best you that you can be. Contact your physical therapist to discuss your struggles and goals to see if right now is the time for you to start PT! Body One PT is locally-owned and operated, with three locations serving Central Indianapolis:North Indy/Carmel,Fishers, and Zionsville. Call or click today to find out how PT can help you!