It’s Time to Think of Physical Therapy as a First Line of Defense

Back pain? If you’re like most patients, you try to stick it out for a few days. If the pain gets worse, you go to your primary care provider (PCP) or a walk-in clinic. Undoubtedly, most patients think this course is the “right way” to deal with a common joint or muscle issue. And, while there’s certainly nothing wrong with seeing your primary care physician, you should know that patients in Tennessee have a unique option that might actually provide a better way of managing your own health care.

The answer? Direct access to physical therapy.

Why See a Physical Therapist First?

Physical therapy is commonly thought of as a type of health care you receive after initial evaluation and treatment from a physician. And, in many states, this is true. As of 2007, Tennessee residents have the unique privilege of being able to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist (PT) without physician referral.

For patients, this means it’s now potentially faster, easier, and more affordable to see a physical therapist.

  • Faster: You don’t have to see your PCP first before going to a physical therapist.
  • Easier: You may be able to get all the care you need for a particular injury during a visit with your physical therapist.
  • More Affordable: Instead of paying two co-pays (PCP and physical therapist), you only pay one by going directly to the PT. Also, multiple studies have shown that patients who receive an MRI first have significantly higher health care costs than patients who get physical therapy first.

When Is It a Good Idea to Go Straight to the PT?

If you have experienced a soft-tissue injury, you may be a good candidate for receiving care directly from a physical therapist. A soft-tissue injury is an injury that does not affect the bone. These injuries affect muscle, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues. Acute examples include:

  • Sprain
  • Strain
  • Swelling
  • Contusion / bruising

Soft-tissue injuries resulting from overuse may include:

  • Tendinitis
  • Bursitis

Back pain is another common reason for seeing a physical therapist. Seeing a PT first may lower a patient’s total cost of care, bypassing imaging scans, opioid prescriptions, and other therapies that could be unnecessary or even harmful.

Find a Physical Therapist or Primary Care Doctor in Nashville

To find a primary care provider near you in Nashville, call STMG and STMG Children and Adult at +1 (615) 297-2700 and +1 (615) 301-7040. You can also make an appointment online. St. Thomas Medical Group is proud to partner with Results Physiotherapy.