Physiotherapy can provide treatment for and relief from a wide range of conditions that many people think can only be treated by their physician. In fact, many physicians “under prescribe” physiotherapy for these conditions and often recommend drugs or surgery instead. Physiotherapy can offer a less-intrusive option and perhaps even more effective form of treatment that avoids the side effects from drugs and recovery from surgery.

Here are three examples of common conditions that can be improved faster and with fewer complications when treated with physiotherapy rather than drugs and/or


  1. Peripheral neuropathy(weakness, numbness and pain from nerve damage, usually in the hands and feet) is an example of a common condition that can be treated by physiotherapy instead of drugs and/or surgery. Peripheral neuropathy can result from conditions such as diabetes, shingles, kidney failure and vitamin deficiency. Peripheral neuropathy occurs in about 2% to 8% of people and is more common as we age.

    Neuropathy pain treated with expensive drugs, including Gabapentin (Neurontin) and Lyrica, can have significant side effects. These drugs are frequently prescribed for patients with neuropathic pain from diabetes. An exercise routine designed with the guidance of a licensed physiotherapist has been shown to significantly lower the likelihood of developing both motor and sensory neuropathy.

  2. Lower back pain usually resulting from degenerative disc issues in the lumbar spine and, is frequently treated by orthopedic doctors with interlaminar steroid injections, an out-patient surgical procedure. The positive effects of these injections, if experienced at all by a patient, are frequently short-lived. In those cases, doctors often recommend spinal fusion surgery as the next step to address chronic lower back pain caused by disc-related issues.

    By contrast, physiotherapy offers a comprehensive approach to reducing lower back pain that can produce positive effects that last well into the future. Better still; the goal of physiotherapy is to make the patient as self-reliant as possible in managing and reducing lower back pain for themselves, without the need for ongoing treatment.

    Physiotherapy for lower back pain typically consists of five parts:

    Comprehensive Musculoskeletal Assessment:evaluate and treat the causes of spinal dysfunction.
    b. Active Spine Care Assessment: establish mechanical and functional benchmarks with realistic goals.
    c. Education: inform patients on their individual condition. Studies show patients with greater knowledge of their condition recover faster.
    d. Treatment: prescribe a course of manual, hands-on physiotherapy adjustments.
    e. Customized Exercise Program: design a specific exercise regimen to restore spinal mobility, strength and stabilization.

  3. Everyday tension headachesoccur in approximately 43% of the population, or over 137 million people (48% of women and 38% of men). (This contrasts with chronic migraine headaches, which occur in 14% of the population, 18% of women and 9% of men.) Tension headaches are typically treated with over-the-counter medications. However, a recent study found that manual physiotherapy was more effective than medication in reducing the frequency, intensity and duration of headaches immediately after treatment. Manual and intramuscular release of strategic muscles can dramatically lessen the frequency and severity of headaches and in some cases eliminate them all together.


Physiotherapy can provide treatment for these and other common conditions that is more effective than medication or surgery when indicated. Contact an AMS physiotherapist for your free consultation to confirm if a condition you’re experiencing can be treated by physiotherapy.



Prevalence of peripheral neuropathy

Prevalence of low back pain:

Statistics on tension and migraine headachse

(Also see spreadsheet)

Effectiveness of PT in reducing pain from peripheral neuropathy in diabetic patients

Effectiveness of PT vs. medication for tension headaches