If You Want to See a PT

Most states today offer direct access to a physical therapist, meaning that you don’t need a referral from a doctor to see one, says Stiskal. However, insurance companies may require a doctor’s referral to cover physical therapy. Your insurance may also limit you to a certain number of sessions for a particular problem.

If you are interested in seeing a PT, Stiskal recommends asking your doctor for a recommendation or checking with friends as you would when looking for any other health professional. You can also check with a reputable medical center in your area or visit the APTA Web site, which allows you to search for a physical therapist by zip code and/or practice area (for example, geriatrics, muscloskeletal, neurolologic). Once you have identified a few potential therapists, she recommends calling their offices and asking some questions – for example, does the therapist have experience working with your particular type of arthritis or your particular joint or functional problem?

When visiting the PT you have chosen, Stiskal recommends thinking clearly about what your complaint is and what you would like to be able to do after physical therapy – get in and out of your car without pain, raise up on your toes or raise your arms to reach items in your kitchen cabinets, take a walk or perform your job without pain in hips, knees and feet, for example.   Then work with in partnership with your PT to develop a plan that works for you.