Should I See an Orthopedic Doctor Before Doing Physical Therapy?

patient describing symptoms to doctor

With some physical therapy clinics now offering visits without a referral, some patients wonder if they should see their doctor before going to physical therapy. As with any medical concern, it is always advisable to see your doctor before going straight into physical therapy. An orthopedic doctor will have the most knowledge when it come to the musculoskeletal system and any aches, pain, or injuries involved with it.

What Do Elite and MPOWER Require?

At our partner physical therapy company, we require that you have a referral before seeing one of our physical therapists. Our doctors at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics have a close relationship with the physical therapists at MPOWER and know what needs to be done beforehand. Your doctor will evaluate your injury or condition and then prescribe the necessary treatment from there. An orthopedic surgeon will know the best possible treatment plan and will be able to lead his clinical team and the physical therapist through the best road to recovery possible.

What Does an Orthopedic Doctor Appointment Entail?

An orthopedic doctor appointment is much like any other doctors appointment when you are sick. Your doctor will ask certain questions to get to know you and your injury. Upon examination, your doctor’s clinical staff may perform imaging (XRAYS, MRI). Once all information is gathered a decision will be made about your treatments, and the doctor will give you options on how to move forward. If physical therapy is a part of that plan, and it almost always is, your doctor will prescribe physical therapy.

How Involved is My Doctor in Physical Therapy?

Our doctors will let MPOWER physical therapists know what muscles and stretches to focus on with patients in their notes, but from your physical therapist is the leader in your recovery. A Doctor of Physical Therapy will have the most knowledge when it comes to healing your injury through exercise. However, if something comes up through physical therapy, our physical therapists work in the same building as your doctor, making it easy to communicate any issues or questions you or they may have.


All in all, it is best to have an orthopedic doctor evaluate your injury and order any necessary imaging before going straight to a physical therapist. Diagnosing an injury and really understanding what the best route to take is a job best suited for an orthopedic surgeon. Before self-diagnosing and deciding what the best treatment you think is, consult with a highly trained, specialized doctor at any of our Nashville or Franklin locations.

Cassie Whittaker Cassie is the Communications Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2020.

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