Myth’s About Physical Therapy

If you are “new” to physical therapy then chances are you don’t know much about this specialized field of health care. You might think of physical therapists as just massage therapists or personal trainers. This is quite far from the truth, but don’t feel bad! There are many, people who are uneducated about what a physical therapist REALLY is!  Here are the Top 5 Physical Therapy misconceptions and their reality.

Physical Therapists are just personal trainers that also do massages.

It takes a lot more than a weekend or 6-week certification to become a licensed physical therapist. To become a licensed physical therapist, it requires at least seven years of schooling.  It starts with an undergraduate degree that is usually in some biological science field and then a rigorous three-year training program.  This program is like what a physician would take in medical school.  In fact, today, all graduates earn a Doctorate degree in physical therapy.  These bright students then must pass national and state licensing exams. Before these therapists lay their hands on you, they have spent a significant amount of time and money to become highly educated and highly trained experts.

You need a doctor’s prescription to come to physical therapy.

You do NOT need a doctor’s prescription before you can see a physical therapist for treatment.  In 1987, Wisconsin granted consumers “Direct Access” to physical therapy.  What this means to you is that you can now go directly to a physical therapist at any time for any aches, pains, sprains, without having to get permission from a doctor.

You can only get treated at the physical therapy clinic your doctor recommends

While your doctor might recommend you go to a specific physical therapy clinic, you do not have to go there. As a patient, you can request to go to physical therapy clinic of your choice!

Physical Therapy is just a bunch of stretching.

If you go to a physical therapist and they show your videos and only a few stretches then you should go somewhere else. A proper physical therapy treatment should consist of a thorough exam, hands-on soft tissue and joint mobilizations, and specific exercises to correct your dysfunctions. Your physical therapist should have their hands on you during every treatment and should tailor a program that is specific to YOUR goals.

Physical therapy is only for post-surgery patients and old people.

Quite often people do not know that physical therapy can fix stuff like migraines, chronic back pain, and nagging injuries.  Physical therapists are trained to work on backs, knees, necks, ankles, elbows, shoulders…your body from head to toe.  Physical therapists are part of your pre-surgery preparation and should be utilized regularly for a “tune up” much like any finely tuned machine needs to remain in tip-top shape.

Quite often people think pain medications and surgery are the only options to reduce pain and suffering when in it is quite the opposite.  Physical therapy has been shown time and time again to best the less expensive, and optimal resource to return you back to the life you desire!

Do you need help with that nagging sprain or weakness?  Schedule a FREE consultation to learn more about your specific issue and how physical therapy can help by Clicking Here!

About the Author

Eric Koehler

Eric Koehler - PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, Certified Dry Needling


Dr. Eric Koehler has been working as a Physical Therapist for over 25 years in the Oshkosh, Wisconsin and Fox Valley area. He has a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and has completed his Fellowship in Orthopedic Manual Therapy in 2017. This level of clinic training is only attained by 1% of all Physical Therapists. Eric's mission is to provide non-surgical, non-drug approaches to help individuals overcome pain and weakness to help them get back to enjoying their life.