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Can Physical Therapy Save you from Spine Surgery?

From athletics to aging, it’s not uncommon to find that certain parts of your body become damaged and torn over time. This is especially true in areas like the knees, the hip, the shoulder – any area that has delicate cartilage that is relied on regularly for most motor movements and prone to arthritis related challenges. One wrong movement, and your joints and cartilage can quickly become inflamed or shredded.

If you have ever played Fantasy Football, then you know that something as simple as a small tear can cause season ending surgery. That is because traditionally, damaged cartilage, tissues, and joints are treated by undergoing surgery. It has long been believed that the only way to effectively repair these damaged ligaments and tissues was with surgical intervention. But if you’ve found yourself with this type of injury, studies are starting to show that surgery may not be necessary at all.

Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Atlanta

Physical Therapy as an Alternative to Surgery

Over the past several years, many long term studies have shown that physical therapy (PT) may be a successful alternative to surgical intervention, and that you can avoid surgery altogether simply by working with a trained physical therapist.

  • One study from the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery looked at 381 patients between the ages of 30 to 90. They found that that, when treated with physical therapy, 75% of all patients with rotator cuff issues were able to avoid surgery with only 3 months of PT.
  • Another study posted in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases Journal, found that patients that struggled with moderate hip arthritis were 44% less likely to require a hip replacement after 6 years if they went through only 12 weeks of physical therapy.
  • Yet another study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that those with meniscus (knee) damage could avoid surgery at a rate of 70% if they engaged in physical therapy before considering surgery, rather than waiting until after surgery.

While some patients in every group still required surgery for severely damaged joints and cartilage, those with mild to moderate issues often found that physical therapy alone was enough to prevent or delay the need for surgery. Given the high costs of surgery, the risks, and the recovery time, anyone that is struggling with some type of tear or damage to their joints may want to consider physical therapy first. If you’re interested in learning more, call Spine Center Atlanta 404-351-5812, today.