Direct Access to Physical Therapy

Direct Access to Physical Therapy Vs Referral by New Heights Physical Therapy in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

Direct Access to Physical Therapy

Many patients have the understanding that they have to go to their doctor to receive a referral to see a physical therapist. What they don’t know is that based on research, direct access to physical therapy can save a lot of money. Direct access to physical therapy means a patient is seen by a physical therapist without first seeing their doctor.

Cost of Referral vs. Direct Access

Referral programs can be incredibly expensive and cost ineffective for patients. A study was performed and published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. This study took two groups of patients experiencing neck pain and/or back pain, one of which had direct access to physical therapy, while the other had physical therapy through medical referral. The patients who had direct access to physical therapy saved an average of $1,543 in costs on their bills than those who received a referral.

Is the Quality of Treatment the Same?

Absolutely. All physical therapists are licensed or certified by the state in which they practice. In the study discussed above, the patients who had direct access treatment had less therapy sessions and total care. The results of treatment were shown to be similar to that of referred physical treatment.

The link to the study is provided for further reading:

Physical Therapy is an Effective Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy is an Effective Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common problem; it affects over 50% of women and almost 14% of men. Managing UI is inconvenient, difficult, and it also has a big impact on quality of life. Individuals with UI report depression, anxiety, poor health, social isolation, decreased physical activity, problems with sexual relationships, difficulty with getting jobs and decreased productivity at work. Although UI can be a stand alone disorder, it is often associated with a number of other medical and musculoskeletal conditions including pregnancy, pelvic pain and spine pain.

In many cases, individuals with UI do not seek intervention for the condition despite the significant impact on health and quality of life. In a study done last year, researchers looked at data from 599 men and women who answered “yes” to the following question on a physical therapy medical history intake form: “During the last three months, have you leaked urine (even a small amount)?” They found that of those reporting UI, only 44% were seeking care for UI; 52% were seeking care for spinal pain, pelvic pain or arm/leg disorders.

Risk Factors For Urinary Incontinence

There are several risk factors for UI include aging, smoking, obesity and consuming carbonated drinks. For women, there are the additional risk factors of pregnancy, delivery, episiotomy, maternal age (older than 30), more than three deliveries and in postmenopausal women weakness of pelvic floor muscles. For men, additional risk factors include pelvic floor muscle changes following prostate surgery.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

There are three types of UI: stress incontinence (SUI), urge incontinence (UUI) and mixed incontinence (MUI). SUI, the most common type, is involuntary leakage on effort or exertion such as when sneezing or coughing. This occurs because abdominal pressure with exertion overpowers the pelvic floor muscles. UUI is involuntary leakage with a feeling of urgency that occurs either just before or at the same time as the leakage. This is believed to be related to abnormal bladder contraction associated with external cues such as hearing the sound of running water. MUI is involuntary leakage with qualities of both SUI and UUI .

There are several options for treatment of UI, including bulking agents, medication, radiofrequency, surgery and pelvic floor muscle retraining (PFMT). PFMT is generally recommended as the first option for treatment of UI. It is low cost, non-invasive and effective, especially in the short term. Short term rates of cure/improvement have been reported to be as high as 97%. Long term benefits (> one year) have been more difficult to determine; they appear to be dependent on if the patient continues with their program of lifestyle changes and exercise.
PFMT should only be provided by physical therapists who have undergone specialized training. At New Heights Physical Therapy Plus, Marie Long, MSPT, COMT and Julie Burtis DPT, CMTPT begin with screening and evaluation. This includes a detailed history of UI, assessment of type and severity of UI and an internal exam if indicated. Treatment for PFMT is focused on education regarding anatomy and physiology, lifestyle and dietary changes and customized pelvic floor muscle exercise, but may also include biofeedback, electrical stimulation, manual techniques and trigger point therapy.

Physical Therapy For Treating And Preventing Pain In The Lower Back

Lower Back Strech

80% Of The Population Suffers From Lower Back Pain

The prevalence of lower back pain in adults is shocking with 80 percent of the population destined to suffer from it at some stage of their lives. Ranging anywhere from a constant ache to a sharp, debilitating sensation, pain in the lower back can strike without warning and be caused by an accident or simply by attempting to lift a heavy object. The good news for sufferers is that physiotherapy is recognized as an effective treatment for the condition.

What Causes Lower Back Pain

Muscle strain is by far the most common cause of a person suffering pain in the lower portion of the back. It can be caused by an awkward movement, lifting or bending. Even simply standing in place for too long without changing position can cause someone to experience pain in the back.

  • Disc disease or injury: Herniated discs and bulging discs can apply pressure to the sensitive nerves in the spinal area and cause pain. A common cause of disc degeneration is aging, but it can also be caused by wear and tear. For example, someone operating heavy equipment, such as bulldozers and grading machinery, is subjected to jarring and jostling along with the vibration of the equipment, and this can cause damage to the spine.
  • Diseases of the spine: Spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis and scoliosis are conditions that can affect the structure of the spine and cause low back pain.
  • Fractures and injuries: Fractures of the spine caused by falls, motor vehicle accidents and other forms of trauma can cause severe and debilitating pain following the injury and during the healing process.

Low back pain can be difficult to diagnose because the cause of the pain could be due to the way a person’s back is positioned while sitting or standing. It could also be due to a lack of stability of the back due to muscle weakness in the abdomen and lower back.

Treatment Options

Just as there are different causes of pain in the lower back, the physical therapy treatment plan must be designed to fit the needs of each person, including the symptoms exhibited and the individual’s physical condition. Among the treatment options available for lower back pain are the following:

  • Strengthening and flexibility exercises
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Ice and heat treatments
  • Electrical stimulation

An essential part of a plan for the treatment of low back pain is instruction and training. Teaching someone the proper techniques for sitting, lifting and bending can prevent additional damage. Although it might seem to be something that comes naturally, people with low back pain might need to learn new sleeping positions to avoid causing further injury.

Don’t Just Mask Lower Back Pain!

Drugs can mask lower back pain, but they are not a solution to the cause of the pain. New Heights Physical Therapy Plus provides low back pain sufferers with solutions to the underlying problem causing their pain, discomfort and disability. Their goal is to help patients strengthen core muscles to provide stability in the spine and lower back and relieve pain. At the same time, they are teaching them the techniques to prevent future problems.