In today’s world of increasing costs in health care, the personal and monetary costs of utilizing pain killing opioid medications, and increasing prevalent accounts of dwindling physical health among individuals of all ages, we have to consider whether or not the price of going to the doctor is more expensive than the cost of physical therapy.

While both medical doctors and physical therapists are capable of helping each of us feel our absolute best, research indicates that physical therapy actually helps patients save money, on a long-term basis.

Active Person walking

The Difference Between a Physical Therapist and a Medical Doctor

Both physical therapists and medical doctors receive an immense amount of training; however, there are differences between the two professions.

Those that work in physical therapy are trained in terms of clinical features on the pathology of the musculoskeletal system, the examination of the system, and developing a regimen that will optimize the system that may or may not include physical-based modalities – such as the use of a TENS unit.

Doctors are responsible for diagnosing, managing a diagnosis, and prescribing treatments – such as those provided by physical therapists. In all instances, doctors and physical therapists work together in order to ensure that each of their patients is receiving the treatment that will optimize their health.

Do I Need a Doctor to Prescribe Physical Therapy?

Now that you know what the main differences are between a physical therapist and a doctor are, you are probably wondering if you require a prescription from a doctor in order to obtain physical therapy. In short, the answer is “it depends”.

If you live in the State of Colorado, the answer is “no”.

The state has recently incorporated the Direct Access law. This means that you do not need a doctor’s referral for physical therapy.

Not all states have adopted this law. If you live in Colorado, though, you can have total and unrestricted access to PT.

If the physical therapist that you are working with feels that your issues are beyond their scope of support, they will refer you to the appropriate medical professional.

What is the Cost of Physical Therapy?

The cost of physical therapy may vary based on the exercises and treatments required within each session.

If you have health insurance, you will most often pay a copay that ranges from as low as $10 to as much as $75.

If deemed “medically necessary”, your insurance may cover all costs of the sessions.

If you do not have health insurance, each session may range from as low as $50 to upwards of $300 or more.

Again, the overall cost of physical therapy will be dependent upon how long your session is, where you go for the session, and the various services provided.

Does Insurance Cover Physical Therapy?

Most of the insurance plans that are in effect today will cover physical therapy. In many instances, you may be required to pay a copay or a percentage of the visit. In other cases, the insurance company that you have coverage with may pay 100% of the costs.

Prior to attending a session, simply contact either the physical therapist or the insurance company directly in order to become familiar with what is or is not covered and what your financial responsibilities will be.

saving money piggy bank

Can Physical Therapy Save You Money?

Yes, opting for physical therapy is a great way to save both time and money. By using physical therapy first, you are likely to experience pain and symptom relief more quickly. Consider the following:

“A recent study by ATI Physical Therapy, My Health First Network, BCBS, and Greenville Health System (GHS), found that 70% of patients that utilized physical therapy first for spine, shoulder, and knee pain were successfully treated without the use of imaging, prescription medication, or additional physician visits.”

By opting for physical therapy first, you can reduce pain and start the recovery process more quickly.

When you start with a medical doctor, you have to start with an appointment. It could take days or weeks to be able to see the doctor. Then, that professional may want to engage in testing, provide you with costly and potentially dangerous prescription medications, and engage in a “wait and see” process to see how you recover.

This could prolong your symptoms and the discomfort that you experience, not to mention, it can get really expensive, really fast.

By going to a physical therapist first, you can get right to work on your issue and bypass all of the unnecessary expenses – such as imaging and prescription medications.

Doctor writing prescription

The True Costs of Prescription Pain Pills

In the past few years, dependence, abuse, and the general misuse of prescription-based pain medications has become a tremendous public health concern.

While it is true that these medications do aid in the general relief of pain, it is also true that it does not get to the root or source of the pain.

These medications simply “cover up” or “hide” symptoms.

Those that are prescribed pain medications do not only suffer immense financial losses, but they suffer from many other “costs”. These include not experiencing true relief from that in which they suffer and the potential for addiction.

Why resort to taking prescription pain pills when you can visit a physical therapist and actually get to the root of the pain that you have?

Physical therapists do not prescribe these types of medications. Instead, they help you understand how your body functions and the measures that you can take in order to eliminate any discomfort that you experience.

The only costs associated with PT is the session and the services that you take part in and receive.

There are no monthly refills to worry over, no side effects to experience, and no worries over the medications becoming addictive.

The true costs of prescription pain pills are not just the quality of your life, but it could include your life – as a whole.

doctors in surgery

Knee and Back Surgery Increasingly Prevalent

If you are reading this, it is quite likely that you know of someone who has had a knee surgery or a back surgery.

You want to know why? Because they did not see a physical therapist first.

In most instances, those that must have a knee scope or a surgical procedure performed on their back do so because they went to a doctor first and received medical treatments that failed.

These likely included wearing braces, using prescription medications, and activities that are similar in nature.

The costs of a knee scope or a back surgery can be in the thousands and may just impact a person’s overall health; however, physical therapy is just a fraction of the cost and may result in complete recovery.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy

By now, you have probably already come to the conclusion that engaging in physical therapy is highly beneficial to your overall health.

While medical doctors do offer support and services that may also help, a physical therapist is more likely to assist you by optimizing your health in a natural manner.

In addition to this, the following outlines additional benefits of going and getting treatment from a physical therapist:

  1. By engaging in a physical therapy session, you will find that you experience far less pain.
  2. When you get PT, you are provided information that helps you successfully manipulate the body in such a way that you are able to avoid having surgery done.
  3. Physical therapy helps to assess the weaknesses in your body and strengthen those areas; therefore, it is highly beneficial in helping you prevent injuries.
  4. In physical therapy, you will learn how to do exercises and other movements that will help to improve your balance and your general level of mobility.
  5. Many do not realize it, but physical therapy can assist in overcoming other types of general health problems that develop as we age. Examples include joint stiffness and pain, the development of arthritis, and declines in cardiovascular functionality. Due to the circulatory system improvements that occur with age, physical therapy can also help in improving memory and other cognitive functions that often decline as we age.

Let Us Help

Here at Back to Motion, we specialize in helping our patients live their best life. It does not matter if you are burdened by an illness, an injury, or the natural aging process, we can help you become the best version of yourself.

We help our patients save time, money, and experience immediate relief by offering a wide variety of services and specials that are designed to improve movement, mobility, and overall health.

Examples include our Smart Fit technological system, the antigravity treadmill, vestibular therapy, dry needling, rehabilitation, basic exercises, TRX, and Tai Chi.

If you’re ready to advance to the next level in your health and want to do it in a safe and effective way, we can help! Simply contact our office.