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What Is The Difference Between A Functional Diagnosis And A Medical Diagnosis?

Posted by Renew Physical Therapy Portland on Monday, January 6, 2020

Renew_Physical_Therapy_Physical Therapy for Chronic Pain Related to Sprains and Strains


Did You Know Physical Therapists Are Doctors, Too?

When physical therapy originally became recognized as a profession, one required a bachelor’s degree to practice. In the 1990s, programs transitioned to a Master of Science degree, and now in the 21st century, the profession has advanced to the doctoral level. This level of education allows your physical therapist to evaluate and diagnose your condition — which brings us to the next question.

What Does A Physical Therapist Diagnose?

While a medical diagnosis is focused on disease, disorders, and injury, you can think of a physical therapist diagnosis as classifying the consequences that result from them. A physical therapist is a doctor who is an expert in movement science. He or she can identify the key factors in movement impairment and functional limitations.

Is There Anything a PT Can Do That a Medical Doctor Doesn’t Do?

During a functional diagnosis, a physical therapist is better equipped to help in two areas. First, they can determine and assess your injury risk. According to Dr. Alicia Ferrier, PT, a physical therapy contributor to NBCNews, “A physical therapist can pick out subtle postural habits that could predispose you to injury depending on your activity…”

Another area of diagnosis that PTs are experts at is finding the best type of workout for you. Everybody (and every body) is different. We all have different postures, physical routines, and muscle imbalances that are unique to us. A physical therapist is trained to include all the details that are specific to a patient and visually determine what type of treatment is best suited for him or her.

Which Doctor Should I See First?

A physical therapist can determine if you need to see a medical doctor for a disease. Your general practitioner will also recommend physical therapy if they need a diagnosis related to a movement issue. In Oregon, we have direct access to physical therapy which means you do not need a doctor’s prescription or referral to see a physical therapist. In some situations, having direct access to a PT can speed up recovery.

How Do I Choose A Physical Therapist In The Portland Area?

As Renew Physical Therapy continues to grow, we have retained our personal approach to our patients. We believe it is because we are unique. Our multiple 5-Star PT reviews reinforce the idea that our approach is creating great results. We adhere to a strict “no-pain” rule throughout treatment to ensure steady progress toward a full recovery.

Visit our About Us page to learn more about our practice, clinic, and staff. Call us at 503.928.4914 to schedule an appointment.


Renew Your Body, Reclaim Your Life!


Categories: Physical Therapist, Physical Therapy, Physical Therapy Referrals