Physical therapy is a medical specialty that helps people improve their mobility, function, and quality of life. Despite its proven benefits, many misconceptions about physical therapy prevent people from seeking the care they need. 

By dispelling these myths and others like them, we hope to encourage more people to seek out the benefits of physical therapy for themselves or loved ones in need.

Referral Requirements

Referral requirements for accessing physical therapy services vary depending on the healthcare system and insurance policies in place. In some cases, a referral from a physician or other healthcare provider is necessary before beginning physical therapy treatment.

This may be required by insurance companies as well as healthcare systems to ensure that patients receive appropriate care and that treatments are covered by insurance policies. However, not all insurance plans or healthcare systems require referrals, and some physical therapists can provide treatment without one.

Patients need to understand the specific referral requirements of their healthcare system or insurance plan when seeking best physical therapy in Denver. Patients can often find this information on their insurer's website or by contacting their healthcare provider directly.

By being aware of referral requirements and other policy details, patients can better navigate the process of accessing physical therapy services and ensure they receive the care they need in a timely manner.

Painful Therapy

Patients may experience discomfort during physical therapy sessions, which can be attributed to the nature of some therapeutic techniques used by the therapist. Physical therapists use different modalities and techniques to help patients recover from injuries or illnesses. Some of these techniques can be uncomfortable, especially if they involve manipulating the affected area. However, it is important to note that pain during therapy should not be unbearable or intolerable.

Here are some possible reasons why a patient may experience discomfort during physical therapy:

  • The therapist is trying to mobilize a stiff joint or muscle.

  • The patient has scar tissue that needs to be broken down.

  • The patient's body is adapting to new movements and exercises.

  • The patient has reached their limit of tolerance for a particular technique.

It is essential for patients to communicate with their therapist about any pain or discomfort they feel during therapy. This way, adjustments can be made in the treatment plan to ensure that the patient receives optimal care without unnecessary suffering.

Injuries Only

Injuries are the exclusive focus of physical therapy treatments. This is a common physical therapy myth that needs to be debunked. Physical therapy can treat a wide range of conditions, not just injuries. It can help with chronic pain, neurological disorders such as stroke and multiple sclerosis, and even balance issues in older adults.

Physical therapists are trained to evaluate and treat various musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions. They use different techniques such as exercises, manual therapy, modalities like heat or cold therapy, and education on posture and body mechanics. These interventions are designed to improve mobility, strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, coordination, and overall function.

Therefore, physical therapy is not just for athletes recovering from injuries; it is for anyone who wants to improve their physical health and well-being regardless of age or activity level.

Qualified Providers

Professionals who have completed a rigorous program of education and training are the only qualified providers for delivering physical therapy services. Physical therapists (PTs) are required to complete an accredited doctoral or master's degree program, pass a national licensing exam, and meet ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain their licensure. This extensive training prepares PTs with the knowledge and skills necessary to assess, diagnose, develop treatment plans, and deliver interventions for a wide range of conditions.

Moreover, it is essential to recognize that not all healthcare professionals who provide rehabilitation services are physical therapists. Some common myths suggest that chiropractors, massage therapists, personal trainers, or even friends can provide adequate physical therapy services.

However, these individuals lack the specialized education and clinical experience required to practice as licensed PTs. Therefore, it is crucial always to seek care from qualified professionals when seeking physical therapy services.

Insurance Coverage

One crucial aspect of receiving physical therapy services is understanding the insurance coverage options available. Physical therapy can be expensive, and not everyone can afford it out of pocket. Therefore, people who require physical therapy often rely on insurance to cover a portion or all of their expenses. However, there are several common myths about insurance coverage for physical therapy that need dispelling.

Firstly, many people assume that they cannot receive physical therapy without insurance coverage. This is untrue as there are options for payment plans and cash-based services that may be affordable even if you do not have insurance. Secondly, some insurers may limit the number of visits or treatments per year that they will cover for physical therapy services; this varies depending on the plan chosen by the insured individual. To better understand these limitations, we have compiled a table below to help you navigate your insurance options and make informed decisions when choosing a plan for yourself or your loved ones seeking physical therapy services.


Insurance Company

Number of Visits Covered Yearly

Co-Pay Amount




Blue Cross Blue Shield






United HealthCare



It is important to note that these numbers are subject to change based on policy updates and negotiations between providers and insurers. Always consult with your insurer before beginning treatment to ensure you fully understand what your plan covers regarding physical therapy services.

Surgery vs. PT

When considering treatment options for musculoskeletal conditions, comparing the effectiveness and cost of surgery versus physical therapy is a crucial decision.

While surgery can often provide immediate relief for certain conditions, it also comes with risks such as infection, blood clots, and anesthesia complications. Additionally, surgery may require a longer recovery time and result in more time off work or limited activity during recovery.

On the other hand, physical therapy can be an effective alternative to surgery for many musculoskeletal conditions. Physical therapists are trained to identify underlying issues that contribute to pain or dysfunction and develop individualized treatment plans that include exercises and manual techniques to address these issues. Physical therapy can also help prevent further injury by correcting movement patterns or posture that may contribute to ongoing pain or dysfunction.

While physical therapy may require multiple sessions over several weeks or months, it is generally less expensive than surgical intervention and has fewer risks associated with it.

Ultimately, the decision between surgery and physical therapy should be made on a case-by-case basis after consulting with your healthcare provider.

Self-Administered PT

Although surgery may be the recommended option in some cases, physical therapy can often be a viable alternative. However, there is another option that many people overlook - self-administered physical therapy. This involves performing exercises and stretches on your own at home, without the guidance of a physical therapist.

Self-administered physical therapy has several benefits. First and foremost, it allows individuals to take control of their own rehabilitation process. This means that they can work at their own pace and tailor their exercises to their specific needs and abilities. Additionally, self-administered physical therapy can be more convenient and affordable than traditional in-person sessions with a therapist.
However, it is important to note that this approach may not be suitable for everyone and should only be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Benefits of self-administered PT:

  • Allows for individualized treatment.

  • Can be more convenient and cost-effective.

  • Considerations before starting self-administered PT.

  • Consult with a healthcare professional first.

  • May not be suitable for all conditions.

Treatment Duration

The appropriate duration of treatment is an important consideration in achieving optimal outcomes for physical therapy patients. While the ideal length of time varies depending on the individual and their condition, it is generally agreed that a longer duration of treatment leads to better results. This is because physical therapy takes time to produce lasting changes in the body, and rushing through treatment may lead to incomplete or temporary improvements.

To illustrate this point, consider the following table which outlines the average duration of treatment for common conditions:


Average Duration of Treatment

Low Back Pain

4-6 weeks

Rotator Cuff Injury

12-16 weeks

ACL Tear

6-9 months

It's important to remember that each patient's timeline may vary based on their unique circumstances, but adhering to a recommended treatment plan will ultimately lead to better long-term outcomes.

Physical therapy is a widely misunderstood field, with many misconceptions about its purpose and practices.

Painful treatments are not necessary nor indicative of success - open communication with one's therapist regarding discomfort levels is crucial throughout the treatment duration. Ultimately consulting trained professionals allows for optimal results when seeking improvement or recovery after an injury or medical procedure has been undergone.


About The Author

Dawn has actively been treating patients for the past 36 years. She received her degree in physical therapy in 1982 from SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York. She participated in extensive international postgraduate studies in manual and manipulative therapy of the spine and extremities in Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand. 


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