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What to Know About Outpatient Physical Therapy

Brought to you by Spooner Physical Therapy


Why was I referred to outpatient therapy?

A patient is referred by their healthcare professional to outpatient therapy when they are in need of rehabilitation after a decline in function, long or short-term injury, or surgery. Treatment will be specifically designed to the patient’s needs with the goals of preventing disability, reducing pain, and getting the patient back to their desired level of functioning.  Patients most commonly referred to outpatient orthopedic physical therapy are patients with low back pain, neck pain, peripheral joint pain, inflammatory muscle conditions, athletic injuries, and postoperative care. A patient is referred to outpatient therapy when they are physically able to get to the clinic. Home Health physical therapy is used when a patient is homebound.

How long will I need to go?

The number of visits and amount of visits per week will depend on the patient’s needs and insurance approval. The patient will have an initial evaluation with the physical therapist where a treatment plan will be developed that identifies what is aggravating and what is symptom relieving. A typical plan will include 8-12 visits at two times per week for the first month, then once per week after, with exercises being done at home between visits.

What will I do there?

The patient will be taught a specific set of exercises and stretches by the physical therapist designed to focus on the deficits determined at the initial evaluation. The therapist will monitor the patient’s progress throughout subsequent visits and adapt and modify the treatment plan accordingly. Typically the patient will have 15-30 minutes of hands-on manual therapy with the physical therapist which can include soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, and capsular stretching. This time could also include cause-specific techniques such as dry needling, myofascial release via cupping, and Astym soft tissue therapy. Next will be 30-45 minutes of an individualized exercise program designed by the physical therapist. Some muscle manipulation techniques are used, but it’s important to remember that Physical Therapists are not Massage Therapists and hands on techniques are designed to help you recover, not just feel better. You will be assigned exercises to do at home, so be prepared to work hard at home as well as in the clinic.

Will I have pain?

One of the primary goals of physical therapy is to reduce pain, so it should be expected that pain would not be increased due to treatment. However, muscles may become sore from the various techniques used. After the initial evaluation, pain may be temporarily increased while attempting to identify what causes flares. However, after a typical visit a patient should not leave in more pain than when they came in.

How much will it cost?

The copayments for Outpatient Therapy will depend on your insurance plan. It is always recommended to contact your insurance company directly to identify what your financial responsibility will be prior to starting treatment.

What should I wear or bring?

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. Shorts are ideal as long pants may need to be rolled up during exercises. Be prepared to be able to expose the area that will be worked on. Wear comfortable shoes that you would normally wear. The therapist will want to observe how you move in your normal everyday shoes.


Information provided in part by Meredith Wall PT. DPT with Spooner Physical Therapy.  Spooner Physical Therapy is a premier provider of Outpatient Physical Therapy throughout Maricopa County. Their primary focus in on Applied Functional Science which is treating the body as a whole, not just a body part. Their clinicians are always striving to be the best they can be through ongoing education and community involvement. Spooner Physical Therapy is privately owned by physical therapist Tim Spooner and has been serving the Valley for over 25 years. For more information and for a list of their locations please visit their website or call 602-559-9700.

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