The National Institute of Health and Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Show Physiotherapy As Effective As Surgery For Many Patients.

Physiotherapy evaluation and treatment before orthopedic surgery plays a critical role in expanding treatment options and maximizing the likelihood of achieving five key post-surgical outcomes:

  1. Reduce post-operative pain.
  2. Increase speed of recovery.
  3. Restore and increase range of motion.
  4. Restore normal gait and mobility.
  5. Increase strength related to performing daily tasks.

Other benefits of pre-surgical Physiotherapy include receiving education on anatomy and the mechanics of what’s wrong, what to expect in surgery and for post-operative recovery time and possible changes in lifestyle after surgery; identifying physical activities that strengthen areas involved in rehabilitation; and gaining familiarization of and practice with exercises that will most likely be used at the appropriate time after surgery.

Post-operative complications like nerve damage, lumbar backache, and brachial plexus stretch injury that often result from positioning on the operating table can also be addressed by physiotherapy.

More importantly, physiotherapy can offer a course of treatment that can take the place of surgery. Seven common orthopedic conditions often addressed through surgery can be treated with physiotherapy, include:

  1. Lumbar muscle or ligament strain
  2. Herniated disc
  3. Discogenic back pain (degenerative disc disease)
  4. Arthritis
  5. Osteoporosis
  6. Spinal stenosis
  7. Spondylolisthesis

Several recent studies support the efficacy of physiotherapy as an alternative to surgery. A 2013 study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that many patients can avoid surgery and receive comparable relief for knee osteoarthritis and meniscal tears with physiotherapy, with 70% of physiotherapy patients reporting continued improvement over a year of treatment. see report

The Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery reported a study that found 75% of patients with a traumatic rotator cuff tears (those associated with chronic inflammation or normal wear-and-tear in the shoulder) were able to avoid surgery for up to two years with physiotherapy. see report,  see report

The American Physiotherapy Association (APTA) reported that a study found surgery and non-operative physiotherapy treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the bone channel occupied by spinal nerves or the spinal cord) resulted in the same reduction in symptoms over the first several years.see reportsee report

Numerous studies have shown that physiotherapy can improve orthopedic surgical outcomes with treatment before and after surgery, as well as offering a possible alternative to surgery altogether. Patients experiencing symptoms that indicate orthopedic problems should contact a physiotherapist for a free consultation to explore treatment options before undergoing surgery.

To learn more, schedule your Free Screening on our website. We also invite you to call for a complimentary 10 minute phone consultation with a licensed physiotherapist trained in treating complex orthopedic conditions.