Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Therafit Physical Therapy, Lowell, MA
Could physical therapy be a good fit for me?
Physical therapy can help with a variety of ailments, injuries, and conditions. These include ankle and foot issues, arthritis, upper back and neck pain, mid back issues, lower back pain, fibromyalgia, hamstring strains, hand and wrist pain, knee issues, muscle injuries, osteoporosis, shoulder issues, tendonitis, sports injuries, movement disorders, work injuries, and much more. Because of the wide variety of conditions that can be helped by physical therapy and the extensive services that we offer, we suggest you visit our website under Physical Therapy/Find Your Injury/on the right side of the page for more information, at https://www.therafit.com/Injuries-Conditions/Injuries-and-Conditions/a~452/article.html You may can also call our office, at 978-452-9252, and speak with a staff member or visit this page to contact us: https://www.therafit.com/contact.html
I am interested in getting physical therapy. How do I make an appointment?
Do I need a doctor’s referral?
The answer to this question may depend on your insurance. Massachusetts is a direct access state which means you are able to obtain physical therapy without the need for a referral from your physician or nurse practitioner. However, most insurance companies require prior authorization for the insurance company to pay for the service. This varies greatly from insurance company to insurance company. Most HMOs require authorization in the form of a referral from your primary care physician’s office, or at the very least, a prescription for physical therapy prior to authorizing payment for services. It is best to contact your insurance company or call us at 978-452-9252.
Where are you located?
Therafit is located in the Mammoth Fire Alarms building, one block from the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s South Campus on 176 Walker Street in Lowell, MA.
How should I plan for my first physical therapy appointment? What should I bring? How should I dress?
Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your first appointment if you have not already filled out your intake information electronically online and plan to fill out this information in person. If not already uploaded electronically, please bring a copy of your driver’s license (for identification purposes) and your insurance card(s) if applicable. Please wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and plan to be at your appointment for at least an hour. Therafit requires that face coverings be worn inside our physical therapy premises.
You may also want to think about the following in advance of your appointment to be able to describe your condition to your physical therapist:
- When and how did the issue start?
- Does it get better or worse at certain times or while doing certain things?
- How often does it occur? How often do you get the symptoms?
- Is it changing? Is it becoming more or less frequent or more painful in nature?
What kinds of conditions can be helped by PT?
A variety of conditions, ailments, and injuries can be helped with physical therapy. These include ankle and foot pain, arthritis, upper back and neck issues, mid back pain, lower back issues, fibromyalgia, hamstring strains, hand and wrist issues, knee pain, muscle injuries, osteoporosis, shoulder issues, tendonitis, sports injuries, movement disorders, work injuries, and much more. Because of the wide variety of conditions that can be helped by physical therapy and the extensive services that we offer, we suggest you visit our website under Physical Therapy/Find Your Injury/on the right side of the page at https://www.therafit.com/Injuries-Conditions/Injuries-and-Conditions/a~452/article.html Often you will find the information that you need there, or you can call our office and speak with a staff member, at 978-452-9252, or visit https://www.therafit.com/contact.html
What can I expect during my physical therapy appointment? What will the physical therapist do?
During your initial evaluation, your physical therapist will take time to get to know you by asking questions about your condition and listening to how it is affecting you and your life.
The therapist will talk to you and perform tests and measurements to further assess your condition, including:
- Observing your movement
- Palpating for spasm or pain
- Measuring your gross range of motion or specific quality of movement in isolation with body parts
- Assessing functional mobility
- Assessing your balance, strength, or endurance
- Performing various other testing, depending on what you present with or what the therapist’s finding are.
At the conclusion of your treatment the therapist may prescribe exercises and activities for you to do at home to complement what he/she did during your visit.
How long should I plan to be at my physical therapy appointment?
Though the time required varies by condition and from individual to individual, please plan for about an hour for most appointments.
Is physical therapy painful?
Physical therapy typically is not painful. However, you may be moving parts of your body that already cause pain (as with recovering from orthopedic surgery) and as a result, appointments and home exercises can be challenging at times. For the most part, movements and areas of your body that are in pain (the reason you are seeking treatment) are better after your appointments.
Can my physical therapist treat more than one issue at a time?
In many cases the answer is “yes,” however, a lot depends on what your particular insurance allows and/or whether the conditions or areas of injury are affecting one another.
Can you help treat my pain?
We are focused on movement, mobility and helping patients live better lives by reducing or eliminating pain. We take a whole-body approach, use a variety of hands-on techniques and skills, in addition to specific corrective exercises and activities to address the source, not just the symptoms, of your painful condition. While pain relief cannot be guaranteed, we are focused on, and strive to increase movement and reduce pain.
How many visits will I need with a physical therapist?
This is completely individual, as there are a number of factors that can contribute towards how much or how long someone needs treatment. For example, some patients with mild to moderately painful conditions that came on relatively quickly may require just a few appointments with a skilled therapist. Other issues (which may include those requiring surgery or long-standing pain) may require extensive treatment over a much longer period of time. In general, the shorter the time period between the onset of the injury and physical therapy, or the earlier physical therapy is begun after the onset of symptoms, the shorter the required duration of treatment and subsequent recovery.
Can I do physical therapy while pursuing other treatment?
Most often, the answer is yes. However, there are times where it is best to stick with one form of treatment in order to consistently monitor for any changes in symptoms or progression with that particular treatment. For instance, many patients may be taking pain medication, trying over the counter devices, and/or performing activities recommended by friends or family who have had what may appear to be, similar problems. While this may seem helpful, medication can often mask symptoms which may be useful to the therapist in order to properly diagnose and treat the problem. Chronic use of pain medication can also have many short and long-term negative side effects. Performing activities recommended online or from someone who may have had a similar problem (without being properly diagnosed for your particular issue) may have negative effects and be counterproductive to your treatment. Therefore, it is best to talk with your physical therapist about all of the treatment options you are pursuing.
Is it better to go to a physical therapist at a hospital or a private practice?
Like most businesses you would patron, you might want to do an extensive review of the business online. Ask friends or family if they have had treatment at a particular facility and whether their experience was positive. Look at the company’s website, online reviews (you can see ours on our home page), their social media pages like Facebook and Instagram (if available) which have posts from the practice and reviews as well. Scroll through their website. Look up (if public) the backgrounds of the staff you might encounter) and see if they highlight experience that may be in line with your condition. It can be difficult, as hospital outpatient departments generally do not have extensive information about their physical therapy departments listed online. Many hospital outpatient departments are just that, part of the hospital. Therefore, there is generally little incentive placed on hospital-based sites to generate referrals to their facilities as they are typically referred from within the hospital’s own healthcare providers. Hospitals are also able to negotiate far greater rates with insurance companies for a lot of their services (including physical therapy) and out-of-pocket costs can be more expensive to patients. Always verify your benefits (if using insurance) with any facility first so you can get an understanding of what your expected out of pocket costs might be (if any) for your expected care.
You may also want to consider proximity to your home or work. Look at whether you have to pay to park or need to park in a paid garage. Typically, private practice facilities (particularly outside of a large metropolitan area) have adequate free parking.
In general, outpatient private practices operate on word of mouth, which may provide a deeper incentive to provide a superior quality of care, but this may vary greatly from facility to facility and therapist to therapist. Do your research. You can also call us at 978-452-9252 for more details.
How much should I expect to pay for my physical therapy appointment?
Therafit accepts all major health insurances in Massachusetts like BCBS, Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim, GIC, Aetna, Medicare, Workers’ Compensation. Therafit also accepts automobile accident claims. Plan benefits vary so please Contact Us with insurance questions at 978-452-9252, and we can verify your coverage. If you do not have insurance, you can choose to self-pay. Please call our office regarding rates and payment plan arrangements. Our office will be glad to assist you in obtaining all necessary pre-authorization information.
Is physical therapy the same as physiotherapy?
Whether one says physical therapy or physiotherapy is typically dependent on the region the professional is from. The terms may be used interchangeably for the most part. Physical therapy is used most commonly in the U.S., and physiotherapy is often used in Canada, Australia, and Europe.
My doctor prescribed a different clinic. Can I go to your clinic?
Absolutely. In Massachusetts you have the right to choose any physical therapy facility you choose that is a provider for your particular insurance. Most private practices are providers for most insurance plans Medicare and physicians are not allowed to direct you to any single provider or facility. The only time you may be limited is if your particular plan has its own “restricted network” of facilities. These plans are typically low cost, catastrophic or public health plans that either the employer or individual chose due to low cost of the monthly premiums. The trade off is that you may be limited in which facilities you may go to. That is typically the only case in which you are “restricted” to where you can go and it is usually because hospital outpatient facilities or clinics have agreed to accept a much lower rate than they are typically reimbursed for services at their facilities.
What is dry needling?
Dry Needling is a form of therapy treatment in which thin filiform needles are inserted into myofascial trigger points (painful knots in muscles), tendons, ligaments, or near nerves in order to stimulate a healing response in painful musculoskeletal conditions. Many times, patients do not feel the needles, however when targeting the painful structure the objective is to experience some level of discomfort as most research demonstrates far better outcomes when this response is achieved. Often times the needles are manipulated by the therapist once inserted in order to achieve this response throughout the treatment. Dry needling is not acupuncture or traditional Chinese Medicine; that is, it does not have the purpose of altering the flow of energy (“Qi”) along traditional Chinese meridians for the treatment of diseases. In fact, dry needling is a modern, western science-based intervention for the treatment of pain and dysfunction in musculoskeletal conditions such as neck pain, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, low back pain, hip and buttock pain, neuropathy pain, IT-Band syndrome, knee pain, shin splints, and plantarfascitis. With certain conditions and treatments it may be recommended to use electrotherapy in conjunction with dry needling in which the needles (after being inserted into the target structure) are then connected to the electrotherapy unit and a current is run through the structure in order to elicit a localized twitch response. This has been demonstrated in the research to be even more effective than dry needling alone with regards to pain reduction and improved patient outcomes.
What is aquatic therapy?
Pool or aquatic therapy involves performing exercises and treatments in water. It has long been recognized for its therapeutic benefits, and patients with chronic low back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, hip osteoarthritis and other conditions can often benefit from it. This therapy in the water can offer greater buoyancy, viscosity, hydrostatic pressure, decreased stress on joints, muscle relaxation, improved circulation, and greater range of motion to name just a few.
Can I use the Therafit pool?
Currently, we are using the fitness center and pool for aquatic therapy and personal training only. You can find more information on our aquatic therapy programs and our personal training programs on our web site.