July 17, 2023 Physical Therapy of Milwaukee

Physical Therapy Can Prevent Unnecessary Surgery

Prevent unnecessary surgeries with Physical Therapy! Recent research from Harvard Medical School suggests that surgery might not be needed as often as previously thought. A large review estimates that only 10% to 20% of surgeries may be unnecessary, with certain specialties such as cardiology and orthopedics potentially having higher rates. Various factors contribute to the prevalence of unneeded surgeries, including a failure to explore more conservative options initially or a lack of up-to-date knowledge among surgeons. Let’s delve into why Physical Therapy plays a crucial role in treatment considerations.


Risks of Surgery

Physicians undergo extensive training to become surgeons. However, without continued learning, their knowledge may stagnate after residency. Recent studies indicate that some common surgeries offer no significant advantages over placebos. Examples include kyphoplasty—a procedure for spinal compression fractures—and partial meniscectomy for knee meniscus tears. Surgeons unaware of these findings may continue to perform these procedures unnecessarily.


Every surgery, even seemingly minor ones, carries risks. These include complications from anesthesia, postoperative blood clots, delayed incision healing, infections, and unintended damage to nearby nerves or organs. While some risks may resolve over time, others can lead to permanent disability or death. While surgery may be the best option for certain patients and conditions, its associated risks warrant consideration of alternatives.


Why Physical Therapy?

For musculoskeletal issues like back and joint pain, sprains, and strains, consulting a Physical Therapist before considering surgery can often prevent the need for invasive procedures and facilitate a quicker return to normal life. Studies have demonstrated that physical therapy is equally, if not more, effective than surgery for numerous conditions, with lower associated risks. Examples include rotator cuff tears, meniscal tears, spinal stenosis, low back pain, and osteoarthritis.


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While physical therapy isn’t a solution for every problem, it’s increasingly evident that surgery isn’t a panacea either. In many cases, initiating treatment with physical therapy proves to be the prudent choice, and for numerous patients, it’s the only intervention needed. Moreover, it’s essential to recognize that Physical Therapy is suitable for individuals of all ages and conditions.

If you are thinking about having surgery, consult with us to see if physical therapy could potentially help you avoid surgery.