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Highbar Physical therapy & Health blog

Do I need a referral for physical therapy?
2 min read

A common misconception is that a physician's referral is required for physical therapy.

Blog | Do I need a referral for physical therapy?

People often ask "do I need a referral from my doctor to go to physical therapy?". The answer is no; you do not need a referral from your physician for physical therapy. You are able to go directly to physical therapy without a referral.

So, when should you go directly to physical therapy?

Top conditions or issues for which you should go directly to physical therapy:

Low back pain

Back pain hurts! It can be scary how debilitating back pain is. Medications, imaging, and surgery are rarely necessary, which is why going straight to physical therapy when suffering from back pain is the best solution for getting you feeling better and moving more freely. "Rest or move?", "Ice or heat?", "Is this serious or not?". Get answers and be confident you are doing the right thing for your back and body at the right time.

Sprains and strains

Minor injuries, such as a sprained ankle, strained muscle, or a minor ligament sprain, can be assessed and managed effectively by a physical therapist. No need to wait to see a physician or orthopedist, or to wait at a walk-in clinic, urgent care, or even the emergency room. This just delays treatment and prolongs getting you back on track. A physical therapist can diagnose you and start treating the same day.

Joint pain

Knee or shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, or tendinitis are effectively managed by a physical therapist. No referral needed!

Sports injuries

Sports-related injuries including sprains, strains, or overuse injuries can be assessed and treated, and future injuries prevented, by working with a physical therapist. The sooner these are treated, the sooner you can safely return to play. An ache or pain holding you back from your gym routine or tennis or soccer league? Whether a new or old injury, you can go directly to physical therapy and get back to moving freely.

Over-use injuries

Carpal tunnel syndrome, planter fasciitis, runner’s knee, and tennis elbow can all be effectively managed by a physical therapist. Stuck at a desk all day? Neck pain, shoulder pain, and even jaw pain can creep up on us. Going directly to physical therapy can help you feel better, quickly.

Balance and falls

If you or a family member are unsteady or are afraid of falling, a physical therapist can help. Decreasing the risk of falling can be life saving!


Dizziness and vertigo can come on quickly and can be scary. Physical therapists can effectively treat vertigo. Physical therapists can effectively treat vertigo so you can get out of bed without feeling like falling over!

Those are just some of the top reasons to go directly to a physical therapist. You can go directly to physical therapy for any movement issue or pain! A physical therapist will refer you to the appropriate healthcare provider if their evaluation findings indicate it is warranted.

Scheduling an appointment at Highbar is quick and easy and can be done online or by phone.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and go to the nearest hospital emergency department.

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