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Frequently Asked Questions About Physical Therapy

Q: Does my physician need to refer me to Pinnacle Performance Physical Therapy and Wellness Center or can I just come in and have you treat my back?

  1. There are actually two answers.
    1. To actually receive physical therapy in the State of Tennessee, it is not necessary to have a written prescription from your physician, physician’s assistant, podiatrist, dentist or chiropractor.
    2. However, third party payers including Medicare, Tricare, and other private insurance companies will not reimburse you for your treatments without a doctor’s referral. If you are paying for your physical therapy services out of pocket it is certainly within our scope of practice to treat without a doctor’s referral.

Q: What should I bring to my first physical therapy session?

A: First, your prescription for physical therapy, driver’s license, insurance card and any pertinent medical information that is easier to have copied versus telling your therapist. It is helpful to bring a list of any prescription medicines and over the counter medicines that you are currently taking.

You can also print out the registration forms from our home page and have them completed for your first session.

Be sure to wear or bring loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that allows the therapist to evaluate your injury. Examples of this would be shorts for a knee injury, or loose fitting pants and shirt for a back injury.

Q: I am sore after my initial evaluation; is that normal?

A: Yes. During the initial evaluation it is important for the therapist to determine the source of your pain. This involves palpation of sore spots and various movements that may cause soreness. Once the plan of care is developed, your next treatments will focus on decreasing pain and improving function.

Q: I am feeling better now, but still have three visits left on my prescription. Can I stop going?

A: Each therapy visit builds on the previous one. To stop prematurely could result in regression or worse yet, a more severe injury in the future. Only your physician or physical therapist should recommend when to discontinue therapy.  It is also always your responsibility to check your appointments to verify you are scheduled to be seen.

Q: My doctor wrote my physical therapy prescription on a competitor’s prescription pad. Do I have to go to them?

A: No. It is the patient’s right to decide where they go for physical or occupational therapy. Many therapists utilize prescription pads for marketing purposes. Any prescription is good at any physical therapy clinic as long as it is less than 30 days old.

Q: How do I know if you will take my insurance?

A: While we accept most major insurances, feel free to call us and we can check to see if we accept your insurance. Pinnacle Performance strives to be as accessible as possible to our customers, and we will always check your out of network plans to see what will and won’t be covered. Our office manager Bridget will be glad to assist you with determining what your plan covers.

Q: I work out at a gym with a personal trainer. I’ve had some aches and pains before and he/she has given me some advice on different stretches to do. What’s the difference between what a personal trainer does and what a physical therapist does?

A: Physical therapists had to receive a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree prior to the year 2002, and now it is required for them to have a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy from an accredited university before sitting for the national board exam.

It is projected by the year 2020 all physical therapists will need a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree to sit for the board exam.

Personal trainers, on the other hand, receive training and certification on how to assist the “well” public in meeting their exercise goals.

The main difference is that physical therapists receive a degree and pass a state licensing exam on how to assist patients with pain, weakness and dysfunction.

Many patients who successfully complete their physical therapy programs become excellent personal trainer candidates.

Q: What’s the difference between what a physical therapist does and what an occupational therapist does?

A: Often they do similar aspects of rehabilitation or co-treat patients in various settings.  The major difference sometimes is that an OT works a lot on abstract, fine motor skills when a patient has difficulty with activities of daily living due to neurological or orthopedic conditions.  A physical therapist will work on more gross motor skills, balance problems and gait deficits secondary to neurological and orthopedic conditions. A physical therapist is often specialized in mobilizations of the spine while occupational therapists specialize more on hand therapy.  There are many other subtle differences, but these are just some of the primary ones.

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