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Can you go to physical therapy without a primary doctor's referral?

physical therapy without referral
3 minutes, 34 seconds

Have you recently gotten injured or suffered a medical condition? You might be in need of a physical therapist’s help. You’d be one of nearly 2.4 billion in the world in need of rehabilitation care. If you’ve never gone to a physical therapist’s clinic before, you could be wondering if a primary care doctor’s referral is necessary to start your treatment. 


Is it possible to start physical therapy without needing a referral from a primary doctor?


If you’re considering physical therapy, it’s important that you understand how you can get started. You’re probably wondering if you need your primary care doctor’s referral to even get your foot in the door. The answer is no, you don’t always need a doctor’s referral. In fact, all 50 states in the U.S. have what’s called direct access laws. These laws allow a patient to start physical therapy treatment without needing to consult with their physician first. People in every state in the U.S. are able to see a physical therapist for an evaluation and some extent of treatment. Most clinics can see patients for up to 10 visits or 21 consecutive days. After this period, if you wish to continue care, you’ll need to speak with your primary care provider for a referral. 


It is important to note, though, that most people make an effort to get a referral before starting PT for insurance billing purposes. Some insurance companies won’t provide coverage benefits for direct access treatment, while others may. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance company before starting direct access PT, to determine how much your sessions will cost you.


What is direct access?


We’ve touched briefly on direct access laws above, but here’s what else you should know about it. Direct access laws were first started in Nebraska during the year 1957. By 2015, every last state in the U.S. had adopted these laws. They’re designed to take away restrictive access to PT treatment mandated by state law. Despite these laws being adopted by each state, many states still only provide direct access under strict sets of conditions. It’s important to provide easy access to physical therapy to help improve the quality of people’s lives everywhere. PT treatment can significantly benefit people everywhere, and anyone should have access to it without facing obstacles such as physician referrals.


What are some of the top benefits of physical therapy?


Physical therapy provides many benefits to patients dealing with a wide variety of conditions. Not sure which benefits are possible to experience with PT treatment? The top advantages include:


  • Reducing your pain — One of the key benefits of PT is that it can reduce pain and inflammation. A physical therapist knows specific movements and exercises that can reduce inflammation in targeted areas, which could help alleviate some of your pain.


  • Improving your range of motion — Many patients experience limited mobility when they’re struggling with stiffness or pain in a certain area of their body. Physical therapy can help you exercise those areas so that your range of motion improves and your stiffness remains at bay.


  • Building muscle strength — Physical therapy can help build muscle strength in areas of weakness. If your muscle weakness is contributing to your condition, a physical therapist can address that area and work with you to strengthen it so your condition can finally begin to improve.


  • Preventing falls — PT is useful for older adults who are having problems with their balance and gait. Older people are vulnerable to falling, but PT can help them strengthen their muscles and improve their balance to reduce their risk.


  • Recovering from an injury or condition — Physical therapy can help patients who have recently been through serious injuries, like from car accidents and sports injuries. It can also help a person recover from a major health condition, like a stroke. Your physical therapist can gradually help you return to a quality of condition that you’re more comfortable with and that improves your quality of life.


Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch physical therapy without a referral


At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. 


Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your conditions now, and without needing a physician’s referral first.


Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find help for your injury or chronic condition today!

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