Physical Therapy or Surgery?

The human body is constantly repairing and fine tuning itself to ensure that we can function to the best of our capabilities. What happens when we acquire an injury or are dealing with a chronic condition that is beyond what our body can fix itself? Medication, surgery and physical therapy are options to consider and often recommended by your doctor when you need help with the pain and limitations associated with an injury or condition.

Choosing which option is best for you is usually dependent on which one can make the pain go away, improve your physical health, how fast you will get better and the cost of the treatment. According to MoveForwardPT.com it is a common misconception that Physical Therapists exist to help people by “stretching and strengthening weaker muscles after an injury or surgery”. However, not only can Physical Therapy treat injuries such as meniscus tears, ACL tears, rotator cuff injuries, ankle sprains and whiplash, Physical Therapists can also diagnose and take preventative measures against chronic injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, and chronic headaches. A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that postponing or even opting out of surgery (in ACL and meniscus cases), for Physical Therapy instead, resulted in better function and less chance of re-injury after one year (http://www.apta.org/PTinMotion/News/2017/6/19/StudyPrognosticFactors/).

Choosing Physical Therapy over surgery can not only be more effective in improving function and pain management, it can also be less costly. Expensive imaging is often not necessary as Physical Therapists are specialists in analyzing and diagnosing movement disorders. An X-ray or MRI with positive findings often does not mean it is the cause or the reason for your pain or functional limitation!

This is article is not intended to suggest that surgery is not at times necessary to treat an injury or condition, but considering the many benefits of Physical Therapy is an option when determining what is best in taking care of and maintaining your health!

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