Physical Therapy before surgery

Considering surgery? Think physical therapy first!

Physical therapy is a safer alternative to surgery, injections and medication.

Did you know that research has shown that conservative treatment of non-traumatic rotator cuff tears is equally as effective as operative treatment one year post-surgically (Kukken et al, 2014)? Therefore, conservative treatment such as physical therapy should be considered a primary method of treatment!

Similarly, for individuals with a meniscal tear in their knee AND mild-moderate osteoarthritis there was no significant differences in the magnitude of improvement in functional status and pain after 6 and 12 months with physical therapy vs. surgery (Katz et al 2013). Individuals without OA responded just as well to physical therapy too (Kise et al 2016)!


If you’re experiencing pain, then you should consider trying physical therapy!

The CDC now recommends that people should choose physical therapy when:

  • The risks of opioid use outweigh the rewards.
  • Risks include, but are not limited to: depression, overdose, or addiction.
  • Patients want do more than mask the pain.
  • Opioids do not fix the underlying problem!
  • Pain or function problems are related to low back pain, hip or knee OA, or fibromyalgia. As there is high quality evidence supporting exercise as a treatment for these conditions.
  • Opiods are prescribed for pain. CDC recommends physical therapy, even if you are prescribed opioids! The lowest possible dose of opiods is always recommended.
  • Pain lasts for 90 days. At this point pain is “chronic” and risks associated with opiods are greater. Therapeutic neuroscience education and exercise are very effective in this case.Author: Dr. Dana Winker PT, ATC