How do I find the right provider?
As a health care consumer, it is often hard to know who to contact when you have a medical problem and where to start, especially in this changing health care system. Once you find a provider, how do you know if they are the right provider for you?
First, I want to discuss how you know whether to contact a Physical Therapist first. In Ohio, we have what is called direct access. This means you can see a Physical Therapist without a referral from a primary care physician or a specialist. The Physical Therapist will determine if you are appropriate to work with them or if you need to see another provider prior to initiating treatment with the Physical Therapist. If the Physical Therapist determines you are appropriate for PT and you see the Physical Therapist for a month without improvement in your symptoms, they will then refer you to another appropriate provider.
So how do you know whether to contact a Physical Therapist first? If you are having musculoskeletal pain, meaning joint or muscle pain, that has come on with or without a specific mechanism of injury, you are likely appropriate for Physical Therapy. If you suspect you have a severe injury, such as a broken bone, or if you have been in a high velocity motor vehicle accident, you should see an emergency physician or primary care physician first (depending on the severity). If you have any questions about whether or not you shoulder see a Physical Therapist first, simply ask one! They will be able to tell you, based on your symptoms and severity of injury, if Physical Therapy is an appropriate first step.
What is the benefit of seeing a Physical Therapist first? First of all, our focus is to keep you as active as possible and to get you back to the life you love as soon as possible. A good Physical Therapist won’t be prescribing bed rest, or referring you right away for imaging or medication if it is not necessary - all things that often do not provide valuable information or lasting improvements in your symptoms, while also costing you a lot of money. Many times individuals who do go for imaging and medication, end up being referred to Physical Therapy any way. Therefore, seeing a Physical Therapist first can save you significant amounts of both time and money.
Last but certainly not least, how do you know if you’ve found a good Physical Therapist? When it comes to Physical Therapy, there are often a lot of different treatments that can be applied to the same problem. Part of this has to do with therapist preference, but it is also important that the therapist closely monitors the patient response to different interventions and adjusts as needed. It is also important that your therapist asks you what your goals are and focuses their treatment on getting you back to what you really love to do. Keep in mind that Physical Therapy is a conservative health care treatment, and you likely won’t be healed after one visit. However, as long as you are making progress after a few visits and the therapist is adjusting your treatments and progressing you each session, you have likely found a quality therapist!
If you have any questions about whether you should see a Physical Therapist first, contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org or (513) 208-2257.