What is physical therapy?
Physical therapy is a non-invasive, non-drug treatment that you may need when health problems make it difficult to move around and do everyday tasks. It helps you move better and relieves pain. It also helps improve or restore your physical function and fitness level.
The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain and to make daily tasks and activities easier. For example, it may help with lifting groceries, going up stairs, running, or getting in and out of bed.
Common elements of treatment include stretching, strengthening, soft tissue massage, and pain management techniques.
What types of issues can physical therapy help?
If you are having pain, issues, or difficulty with your bones, joints, muscles, tendons, or ligaments, physical therapy can probably help. Common issues include bursitis, tendinitis, back pain and sciatica, arthritis, and post-surgical recovery. Every day, we see patients who have problems with hands, elbows, shoulders, neck, jaw, headaches, back, SI joint, hips, legs, knees, ankles, and feet.
Physical therapy can also help manage and even cure balance and vestibular problems. These problems include vertigo, Meneire's disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), dizziness, and labrynthitis, among other issues. Balance and vestibular issues can be caused by a variety of issues, including sensory input (like hearing), lower body weakness, and problems with the vestibular and inner ear systems.
See a more complete (but in no way complete!) list of conditions we treat under the Physical Therapy link in the site menu.
What does a physical therapist do?
At your first visit, your physical therapist will examine you in a way that might remind you a little of a sick visit with your primary care physician: they will talk to you about what is going on, they will take measurements and perform some tests such as your strength and range of motion, and they will work with you to come up with an individualized treatment plan. At FYZICAL MetroWest, we don't believe in one-size-fits-all.
Based on that evaluation and depending on your health problem, your therapist will work with you to manage pain, increase flexibility, strengthen your body, increase endurance, work on your coordination, and work to improve your balance.
Physical therapy almost always includes exercise. It can include stretching, strengthening, core exercises, and weight lifting or resistance exercises. Your physical therapist will teach you exercises to do at home so that you continue to make progress and prevent the problem from happening again.
Your physical therapist may also use manual therapy/soft tissue massage, education, and techniques such as heat, ice, laser therapy, and electrical stimulation, depending on your specific needs.
What qualifications do physical therapists have?
At FYZICAL MetroWest, all of our physical therapists have a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) which, like all medical degrees, require additional, rigorous schooling. Physical therapists need to pass their boards and are licensed by the Massachusetts Board of Allied Health.
We also employ physical therapy assistants (PTA), who are also educated, licensed professionals. PTAs follow the plan of care written by the Doctor of Physical Therapy, and treat patients with stretching, strengthening, exercises, hands-on treatment, etc.
To help our therapists, we employ rehabilitation technicians. At FYZICAL MetroWest, we only hire techs who have a background and bachelor's degree in exercise science or kinesiology (the study of body movement). Technicians do not provide physical therapy services but are an important part of your care team.
What do I need to make an appointment for physical therapy?
Mostly, all you need is a desire to get better.
Massachusetts is an "open access" state. This means that if you would like to have physical therapy, you are able to make an appointment under any circumstances, and you are allowed to choose where you want to go. However, you may have restrictions if you want to use your health insurance for payment - about half of insurance plans require a referral from your primary care physician. This is different than doctor's orders/prescription, which, just like a prescription for medication, are just directions for us. A referral is a notification from your PCP's office to the insurance company approving the visits. The good news, though, is that unlike many offices, we take care of it here in our office so you don't have to worry!
Medicare patients are required by federal law to have written orders/prescription from a medical doctor. If you are covered by Medicare as your primary insurance, and do not have orders for physical therapy, please call your doctor and tell them you'd like to see us!
What do I need to bring at my first appointment?
- Your paperwork (or you can come in 10 minutes early and fill it out in the office)
- A list of your medications, if applicable
- Orders from the doctor, if applicable
- Your insurance card
- Comfy, loose fitting clothes
- MRI or X-ray reports, if applicable
- A form of payment for any copayments, coinsurance, or deductible
How long are appointments?
From start to finish, the first visit will about about an hour and fifteen minutes. This includes the examination, treatment if appropriate, and scheduling future appointments.
Subsequent appointments will depend on your specific needs, but generally last about 45 minutes and will consist of carrying out the treatment plan that the therapist developed with you.
What does it cost to go to physical therapy?
For your convenience, FYZICAL MetroWest accepts assignment for most insurances, which means that we will bill the insurance company and they will pay us directly. (Click on the 'Insurance & Payment' link under the "New Patient" tab up top to see which insurances we work with.)
However, each insurance plan, even within the same company, is different. Your plan may require you to pay a deductible, coinsurance, or copayment. We ask that you please call your insurance company to understand what they will and will not cover. You can find the number for Member Services on your insurance ID card.
We also offer very reasonable self-pay rates for those people who do not wish to use their insurance benefits or for people who have an insurance we are not in-network with.
We want to make your care as easy as possible for you. We offer payment plans and accept Care Credit to help you afford your care. If you have questions regarding payment options or what/how your insurance paid, please contact us at 508-650-0060, ext. 403.