When is referral for physical therapy appropriate?
A referral for physical therapy is appropriate any time a patient’s symptoms and impairment may be related to the musculoskeletal system.
Physical therapists are movement experts and address impairments in the locomotor system and its intersection with the nervous system. There are of course many areas of specialization. Mine is orthopedic physical therapy, which is the conservative treatment of musculoskeletal disorders through the application of orthopedic manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, ergonomics, movement- and posture re-education etc. There is strong support in the scientific literature for the combination of manual therapy and therapeutic exercise in the treatment of the majority of the most common musculoskeletal disorders.
The current entry level physical therapy degree is a clinical doctorate, and all states grant some degree of direct access to physical therapy.
This means that physical therapy is the most appropriate initial referral for patients in need of conservative management and care for musculoskeletal disorders, as well as pre- and postsurgically for prehab and rehab. The physical therapist’s evaluation includes a screening for potential red flags and a patient not currently appropriate for physical therapy will be referred back to you. Therefore, a referral to physical therapy can also constitute a screening tool for whether the patient’s presenting complaint is musculoskeletal in nature or not.
After referring a patient for physical therapy you will receive a thorough evaluation report, as well as regular progress reports to keep you posted about your patient's progress.
Physical therapy does not need to constitute a stand-alone intervention, but can effectively be combined with medical management, acupuncture etc.
How do I write a script for physical therapy?
Your referral only needs to include the patient’s main complaint, e.g. “low back pain” and your name and credentials. The physical therapist will evaluate the patient and determine the classification, cause and appropriate treatment plan for the patient.
Who can refer to physical therapy?
In the state of Illinois an MD, DO, DPM and DDS can write a referral to physical therapy. All other practitioners are welcome to refer patients to physical therapy, but the patient's insurance plan will require the referral of one of the above listed practitioners as well.
Will my patients be able to use their health insurance for physical therapy services?
I am in network with BCBS and I am a Medicare provider. Patients covered by other healthcare plans will receive an itemized superbill complete with ICD-10 codes and CPT codes and may submit this to their respective insurance company for reimbursement of their services.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time via text or voice at 847-208-8063 or via email.
More news and information about physical therapy here.
Beattie et al. Patient Satisfaction With Outpatient Physical Therapy: Instrument Validation. Physical Therapy, 82(6). (2002).
Resnik et al. Predictors of Physical Therapy Clinic Performance in the Treatment of Patients With Low Back Pain Syndromes. Physical Therapy 88.9 (2008)