FAQ – Do I Need a Doctors Referral for Physiotherapy?

low back pain and direct billing to insurance for physiotherapy

This is a common question we receive at our North Oakville Physio clinic. People are wondering if they require a physician note to attend physiotherapy assessments / treatments.

The short answer is NO!

You do not require a doctor’s referral to book an appointment with a physiotherapist in Ontario (and therefore Oakville / Burloak). Physiotherapy is direct access. This means that you can see a physio without seeing your family doctor / specialist first.

It is within a physiotherapists scope of practice to assess patients with musculoskeletal issues and to communicate a diagnosis. For example, your elbow has been getting more sore and painful with activities like gripping and typing. After trying some home remedies you decide your elbow is not getting better and in fact, it is getting worse.

What do you do?

At this point booking in to see your physiotherapist would be a great idea. They can provide you with personalized education and treatment to get you started right away. In cases like these, your physio would communicate with your physician and send you for medical assessment if they feel that it is necessary, they may suggest this as well if you do not seem to be improving with treatment.

It is easy to delay treatment that could be helpful by waiting for a doctors appointment where they may only provide a prescription for medications and or imaging. THEN you wait for the imaging results and / or a specialist referral, while you could be getting the help of a physiotherapist, and THEN you may be referred to physiotherapy.

In an ideal situation you’re already seeing a physio even IF you need the above. This prevents further decline in strength or function. This also prevents a decrease in quality of life.

Are we saying to not consult with your family doctor?


Please do consult and keep them in the loop. In fact, as physiotherapists we often send off assessment and progress reports to your medical team to let them know what is going on.

Keep in mind that some insurance companies (ie. private benefits) require a doctors prescription for them to pay for your physio, or massage appointments. Every insurance is different so it is best to familiarize yourself with your own insurance by either calling or looking through your booklet.

Our North Oakville Physio, Massage, Acupuncture and Foot Clinic is able to provide direct billing to most insurance companies. Again, this depends on your personal insurance.

Contact us to book in with one of our awesome physiotherapists!