1) I've heard a lot about massage and chiropractic, but what is physical therapy?
Physical Therapists are professionally educated at a university level and hold a Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate degree in physical therapy. They are licensed in the state they practice. The scope of physical therapy practice is defined by the American Physical Therapy Association to include the following:
- A physical therapist provides services to patients/clients who have impairments, functional limitations, disabilities or changes in physical function and health status resulting from an injury, disease or other causes.
- A physical therapist practices in collaboration with a variety of health care professionals including physicians, physician’s assistants, dentists, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and many others.
- A physical therapist provides prevention, wellness, consultation and educational services both in the clinic and in the community.
- Physical therapists are extensively trained in the areas of the musculoskeletal and neurological systems of the body and therefore they can be very effective in treating a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. Medical and evidence base research provides the foundation for physical therapy practice.
2) What types of problems do you treat and what techniques do you use?
Please see our Services page for a detailed answer.
3) Does my doctor need to refer me to physical therapy or can I just call to make an appointment?
The State of Montana has set laws that allow anyone to seek physical therapy without the referral of a physician or medical professional. Despite this, some insurance companies still require a referral to cover physical therapy costs.
The insurance plans we most frequently deal with allow for “direct access” for physical therapy services without a prescription from a doctor. Feel free to call us for additional information or check with your insurance company.
4) Is physical therapy just for people who've been injured?
Absolutely not. The majority of the patients we treat at Fischer Physical Therapy are unaware of how their painful condition started. Sometimes it is an accumulation of physical stresses. Other times, symptoms may not develop for months or years after a minor injury. If you are in any degree of pain and it is influencing the way you function, you are a great candidate to receive our services.
5) Is Fischer Physical Therapy the same as other PT clinics? Isn't physical therapy physical therapy?
Fischer Physical Therapy is much different than typical outpatient physical therapy clinics. We hear positive comments about this regularly. Our approach is holistic in nature. “Holistic” is a term that refers to the philosophy of treating the physical body as a whole with many inter-connected and inter-related parts, rather than focusing on only the injured region. We treat the whole person, within the scope of physical therapy practice, because of the profound influences many “distant” parts of the body have on the injured region. For more information on what makes us unique, see “Discover the Fischer Physical Therapy Difference.”
6) Can I choose whichever physical therapy clinic I want?
Yes. You might find yourself guided toward a particular facility but do not forget you have the ultimate right to choose your own physical therapist. Ask around, it could save you a lot of time and money.
7) How many visits will I need to make a full recovery?
This is highly variable. You may need one visit or you may need months of care. It depends on your diagnosis, the severity of your impairments, your past medical history, etc. You will be re-evaluated on a continual basis and when you see your doctor we will provide you with a progress report with our recommendations. We will make every effort to make your recovery as swift as possible. The home exercise program we develop for you will speed your recovery and allow additional recovery following discharge from physical therapy services. It is important to note that for good outcomes, responsibility lies with the patient as well as the therapist.
8) Wouldn't getting a massage be just as good for my pain?
Probably not. Good outpatient physical therapists are capable of identifying problems that are highly specific to the pain you experience. Massage tends to be much more general, dealing with the skin, fascia, and muscles. Manual therapy techniques applied by a skilled physical therapist go beyond these tissues and specifically influence joints and the nervous system as they relate to the physical problems and the art of the subsequent recovery. Thus, due to the lasting results emphasis at Fischer Physical Therapy, we use traditional massage technique very little. However, massage can be a helpful addition to your physical therapy care if you are interested in seeking it.
9) Are physical therapy treatments painful?
This is commonly assumed. In reality, there is little need to inflict pain in order to achieve results for the majority of diagnoses. At Fischer Physical Therapy, we have discovered methods of releasing tension at the level of the nervous system and directing the body’s own natural energy. This approach allows for greater results with much less pain.
10) How do I know if you accept my insurance?
Fischer Physical Therapy accepts most insurance plans. For more information, feel free to check out our insurance page.
11) Can I pay privately without going through insurance?
Yes. Private pay allows for much greater freedom for the person seeking care. Cash rates are found on the insurance page.
12) Do I need to pay a co-pay when I receive treatment?
Co-payments are due upon arrival. While it may be enticing to “waive” this fee, medical facilities are legally bound to require whatever co-pay is indicated on your insurance card. When you experience the value of our service, you’ll see the co-pay as money well spent.
13) Will you communicate with my doctor about the condition I'll be treated for?
Yes. We fax initial evaluation and discharge summary information to your doctor. In addition, we fax progress notes to your doctor if you return for a follow-up.
14) How long will my appointments be?
The first appointment will be approx 1 hour due to filling out paperwork (unless done via internet). Subsequent visits are typically 45 minutes.
15) I'm feeling a lot better after 4 treatments. Do I need to keep coming to physical therapy?
For best long-term results, it is best to discuss this issue with your physical therapist. Symptoms are the first issue to resolve with our care. While this is very important to us, we are most committed to the long-term resolution of your problems, which often require further therapeutic development.
16) What happens if I don't feel like progress is being made?
We will make every effort to find a way to meet your goals. If you or the physical therapist feel this is clearly not the case, we will again make efforts to direct you to the right therapeutic approach outside our facility.
17) How will I know if I'm getting better?
This should be quite clear. Your will notice progressively less pain and improved function. Feel free to hold our therapists to “significantly better in 4 or we’ll suggest no more.” There are instances, such as following surgery or an acute injury where this would not be realistic.
18) What should I bring to my 1st appointment?
- Insurance card
- A legal guardian (if under 18)
- Loose clothing -if shorts are necessary (ex. knee rehab) you may bring your own pair or wear shorts we provide
- Referral from physician – if required by your insurance company
19) How should I dress?
You should wear loose fitting clothing so you can expose the area that we will be evaluating and treating. For example, if you have a knee problem, it is best to wear or bring shorts. For a shoulder problem, a tank top is a good choice; for a low back problem, wear a loose fitting shirt and pants, again, so we can perform a thorough examination. However, if daily routine or the weather restricts your ability to do this, we have gowns and shorts at the clinic.
20) My doctor wrote my physical therapy referral on a prescription pad for another clinic, do I need to go to them?
No. It is your ultimate right as a patient to choose the physical therapy facility that is best suited to your needs. Most physical therapy facilities use prescription pads which are given to doctors for marketing purposes. However, any prescription pad can be used at a clinic of your choice and is honored by your insurance if a referral is necessary.
21) Is it normal to be sore after a treatment?
Mild soreness in the days following treatment can occur. This is commonly due to new movement patterns following treatment causing previously inactive areas of the body to get exercised more.
22) Will I need to do exercises as part of my physical therapy program?
Yes. For best results, we typically prescribe exercises which can be done at home or at work to address the long-lasting issues of muscle balance, stabilization, and posture that are often a significant contribution. Exercises given for this purpose are customized for the individual needs of each patient.
23) I work out regularly at the gym with a personal trainer and yoga instructor. I have been given some stretches to perform for my chronic muscle tension. What is the difference between personal trainers or yoga instructors and physical therapists?
Physical therapists receive a degree from an accredited university and pursue extensive education on how to treat a variety of diagnoses. In addition, physical therapists must pass an extensive board exam and be licensed in the state where they practice. Physical Therapist’s place special emphasis on the influence of many physiological systems’ contribution to health and dysfunction.
24) Do you treat the part of me that hurts or the whole body?
We evaluate the entire body with each patient on a variety of levels. We look at not just direct influences to your pain but also the more hidden, indirect ones. It is common for us to treat parts of the body distant from the source of the pain to create optimal outcomes. The vast array of these interventions is essential to good care and lasting results.
25) When is my condition considered chronic? Is chronic pain something you just have to live with? How can Fischer Physical Therapy help?
Chronic pain is that pain which no longer serves a biological function, thus providing no real physical purpose. Pain is generally classified as “chronic” after it fails to resolve after 3 months.
Chronic pain is complex and is often misunderstood. People who experience chronic pain may be led to believe it is “in their heads” or it can only be managed with pain relievers.
At Fischer Physical Therapy, we have seen consistent and long-term improvements and resolution of a multitude of chronic pain conditions, including headaches and spine-related problems. For this to occur, treatments must involve skilled, specific hands-on interventions which gradually progress into active movement. A holistic approach is essential. Our physical therapists routinely progress chronic pain patients out of pain and on a road to a vital and active lifestyle.
26) How does your hands-on manual therapy approach influence the healing process?
The manual therapy approaches we use are highly specific to the needs of the body on many levels. Skilled hands are the best “tools” on earth to both assess and correct dysfunctions in the body. Exercise approaches alone do not have the ability to address problems with the same specificity. Additionally, the manual techniques we use are much more specialized than traditional massage. A complete listing of the manual techniques we use can be found on our services page.
We use an eclectic approach often integrating several techniques in each treatment. Primal Reflex Release Technique provides us an amazing way to assess and balance the autonomic nervous system by releasing dysfunctional reflex activity which is related to your pain. Other techniques remove barriers to joint/fascial mobility and restore natural energy flow. The end result is improved circulation, enhanced tissue oxygenation, removal of waste products, detoxification, elimination of spasm, and positive hormonal influence.
27) Can I choose which physical therapist at your clinic I want to work with?
Absolutely. Please make that very clear when you call in for your first appointment if you have a preference.
28) Can Fischer Physical Therapy help Fibromyalgia and sleep disturbance?
We generally see success with these conditions. If no progress is occurring in 3-4 treatments, it is not likely that our approach is the right solution. Our approach with these conditions is very gentle.
29) Can the holistic approach at Fischer Physical Therapy help my energy levels?
Yes. The majority of our patients report feeling more energy as a result of our work. We are not satisfied with just pain relief and functional restoration. We desire wellness.
30) Does your approach help with athletic performance?
Yes! Since our approach analyzes problems throughout the body, such as balance, alignment, instability, muscle imbalances, joint mobility, and soft tissue restrictions, correction of these “weak links” often has a powerful effect on athletic performance. Additionally, we empower the athlete with knowledge, self-awareness, and training tips.
31) Will Fischer Physical Therapy support my dedication to working out at the gym?
Absolutely. We want your activity level to be restored and maintained. We are happy to advise you with options for future exercise.