Do I Need A Referral For Physical Therapy?

Do I Need A Referral For Physical Therapy?

This is one of the most common questions we get in physical therapy. The answer, “maybe”, doesn’t clear up the muddy water. Fortunately there is a relatively simple way to get to the bottom of it…Call us! For most everyone, insurances do not require a referral from a primary care physician. We create a loop of communication. Sending our notes sent back and forth between the two providers to bridge the gap of formal referral. We will conduct our evaluation, write up a report, and send it on to your primary care doctor so that they are aware of your condition and treatment. They sign this note, give us any feedback. We interact regularly with them via progress notes.

There is a huge advantage in having direct access to your physical therapist. If you sprain your ankle, develop an achy shoulder, sleep wrong and have a stiff neck, or some old back pain starts to flare up on you, you don’t have to wait for an appointment with your doctor just to get a physical therapy referral. Just give us a call, we will verify your benefits directly with your insurance company to determine if a referral is needed. At this same time, we will obtain information as to any visit limitations and estimated costs for each visit. If your schedule is relatively flexible, we can often get people seen within 24-48 hours. So don’t wait on that new injury as it worsens, don’t miss out on that hike you wanted to take, or put off treatment because of the hassle of sitting in multiple waiting rooms just to get to the place you already want to be heading.

The next part of the equation is not meant to scare you, but to express the need for thoroughness of our evaluations. While most of the time an injury to bones, muscles, joints, ligaments etc. presents in a predictable way, we always want to rule out conditions that require more serious medical care. We take care to screen patients for instances when physical therapy is not the best place to start treatment, but I will cut right to the chase on some signs that you need to see your primary care physician before you start with us.

  • Constant and/or severe pain that does not change with movement or position changes.
  • Unremitting night pain
  • Unexplained weight loss and/or fatigue
  • Changes in bowel or bladder symptoms
  • Numbness or tingling throughout your groin in a “saddle” like pattern
  • Prolonged fever
  • History of Cancer
  • Dizziness and/or frequent headaches

This is not a comprehensive list, but some of the signs/symptoms we are screening for in your initial evaluation. If any are present, skip the direct access to your physical therapist and head straight for your primary care physician.