Report: No Risk in Seeking PT without Referral

For many people with aches and pains, the first stop on the road to recovery is their primary care doctor’s office. After all, family doctors are who we defer to on most medical concerns. A sore neck or back can indeed be scary, and it’s worth seeking medical advice before proceeding. In many cases, a primary care physician will offer some insight into the source of the problem and refer patients out to specialists for treatment. A new study reveals, however, that seeking physical therapy treatment without a referral can save patients both time and money.

The research, recently published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, was conducted using data from back and neck patients seeking medical care in the traditional way. Patients saw their GP and were referred to physical therapy for treatment. Another group of patients went directly to a physical therapist for help with no professional reference. The medical bills associated with these two groups were compared. Despite no difference in outcome, – both groups experienced positive experiences when treating their pain or disability via PT – the patients who sought physical therapy directly saved significant money.

Serious Savings

Just how much money, on average? The study estimates that those with direct access to physical therapy cost third-party payers (like insurance companies) $1543 less than those who saw another doctor first. What’s more, the researchers found that there was no increased risk associated with skipping out on the referral process.

The study goes on to outline just how many people suffer from back and neck pain in the United States each year. As much as 36 percent of the population experiences these kinds of aches and pains, leading to an expensive toll on the economy. That’s to say nothing for the ramifications on the individual patients’ personal finances


If you’re eager to get help with your injury, there’s no need to wait for your general practitioner to refer you to a physical therapist. Trained to assess the individual needs of each patient, our team offers a proactive approach to those in pain. If you’re suffering from neck or back pain, see a physical therapist sooner rather than later!

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