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Get care that meets your specific needs.

Download this resource in Spanish (pdf).

Physical therapists treat people of all ages and abilities.

You can see a physical therapist for an evaluation without a doctor's referral. However, your insurance policy may require a referral, or may limit you to in-network providers.

Here's how to find the best physical therapist for you.

1. Find a physical therapist near you (we'll help).

Use our Find a PT tool to locate a physical therapist near you. You can filter search results by location, practice focus, or specialization (see No. 2 below). All physical therapists in Find a PT are members of the American Physical Therapy Association.

2. Consider if you want to see a specialist.

Many physical therapists achieve board-certified specialization through advanced education and training in one or more of 10 areas:

  • Cardiovascular & Pulmonary.
  • Clinical Electrophysiology.
  • Geriatrics.
  • Neurology.
  • Oncology.
  • Orthopaedics.
  • Pediatrics.
  • Sports.
  • Women's Health.
  • Wound Management.

You can find a specialist through Find a PT.

3. Make sure you receive physical therapy from a licensed physical therapist.

Only licensed physical therapists are included in Find a PT. Otherwise, be sure your physical therapist uses the credentials "PT" (which stands for physical therapist) or "DPT" (which stands for doctor of physical therapy).

4. Contact the physical therapist's clinic to ask about services they offer.

All physical therapists are prepared through education and clinical experience to manage a variety of conditions and injuries.

Some physical therapists focus on a particular condition (low back pain, for example), or a specific age group (such as children or older adults), or practice in a specific setting (such as outpatient clinics or home care).

Ask if the physical therapist regularly treats people like you. If they don't, they will often be able to refer you to another physical therapist who does.

5. Ask if the physical therapist's clinic accepts your health care plan.

Getting care from an in-network physical therapist should lessen your out-of-pocket costs. Some physical therapists also accept "cash" payments outside of insurance.

6. Ask whether the clinic will submit insurance claims on your behalf.

Some insurance policies require a copayment. A copayment is a fixed amount you pay for covered care after you have met your deductible. Your deductible is the portion you must pay before insurance benefits begin. Your copayment may depend on whether the physical therapist is part of your insurance provider's network.

The clinic should be able to help you estimate the amount for which you are responsible. It is best to contact your insurance company before treatment to verify your out-of-pocket costs.

See Understanding Health Insurance Terms for more information.

7. Know your rights.

You have the right to choose any physical therapist in your state who participates in your health care plan. Some doctors have a financial interest in physical therapy practices. If they refer you to a physical therapist in their office, you are not required to go there. 

8. Prepare for your first visit.

Here's how you can get the most of out of your physical therapist treatment.

Find a PT Near You