Sunday, April 14, 2024

Does Bodily Remedy Actually Work?

does physical therapy work

Suppose you lastly determined to see your physician about some continual ache in your knee, shoulder, or again. Your physician prescribed you PT, however you’re skeptical. Does bodily remedy actually work? Is it definitely worth the weeks of follow-up care?

As a bodily therapist myself, in fact I’m biased to say that bodily remedy does actually work. However the advantages of PT are as actual because the objections you could really feel proper now. Contemplate this text my professional rebuttal to a reluctance for rehab, primarily based on my firsthand expertise and the analysis of the medical group. 

Is Bodily Remedy Going to Assist Me?

When somebody is apprehensive about going by means of with bodily remedy, it’s often for a handful of causes. First, there’s the concern of the unknown, if you happen to’ve by no means achieved PT earlier than. You’re already coping with ache—received’t PT make it worse? And there’s the monetary facet of issues: not all insurance policy cowl PT visits, and the multiple-visit nature of remedy could make prices actually accumulate.

Lastly, many sufferers keep away from PT as a result of they doubt it can work. Why spend all this cash, effort and potential discomfort on one thing that received’t put you in a greater place than you had been once you started?

However your physician is correct to prescribe bodily remedy—it does actually work. I can confirm that, primarily based on the cost-value of bodily remedy and the true outcomes it brings, pursuing PT in your continual ache is totally worthwhile.

How Bodily Remedy Can Assist

After working in bodily remedy for the higher a part of a decade, I may give numerous examples of how PT has helped my sufferers see optimistic outcomes, from stopping falls and overuse accidents to recovering from harm or surgical procedure. However for the sake of this submit, I’ll deal with simply 5 circumstances we frequently see within the clinic, detailing how each is handled and what the analysis says concerning the effectiveness of PT.

Neck Ache (Cervical Radiculopathy)

Additionally referred to as a pinched nerve, cervical radiculopathy is an inflammatory situation that produces numbness, tingling, and sharp ache. You might also expertise common complications and radiating ache down your arms or into your chest. 

When you may pop painkillers till the discomfort goes away, a extra long-term resolution lies in bodily remedy, which can deal with your signs in addition to the foundation reason behind the compression in your neck.

Frequent PT remedies for cervical radiculopathy embody the next: 

  • Guide remedy, equivalent to soft-tissue mobilization
  • Cervical traction
  • Strengthening workout routines for muscle groups in your neck, again, and chest
  • Stretching and adaptability coaching for the neck, higher again, and shoulders


Bodily remedy is broadly evidence-based, that means the remedies your PT suggests are backed by the newest findings in medical analysis. And the widespread remedies for cervical radiculopathy are not any totally different. On this systematic overview, train—both alone or taken with different remedies—successfully improved high quality of life, decreased ache, and elevated functioning in sufferers with neck ache. When mixed with therapeutic train, handbook remedy, together with the soft-tissue mobilization {that a} PT is skilled to carry out, has additionally evidently produced long-term advantages on a affected person’s neck ache, mobility, and power. 

does physical therapy really work for neck pain

Shoulder Ache

Within the PT clinic we see every kind of shoulder accidents. The most typical embody rotator cuff tendinopathy (tendonitis), bursitis or shoulder impingement, and rotator cuff tears. By leaving any of those points unaddressed, you would exacerbate extreme ache and debilitation in an space of your physique you employ for virtually every part. 

Bodily remedy for shoulder accidents consists of a few of the following interventions:

  • Therapeutic train, together with resistance band workout routines
  • Eccentric train, or actions that strengthen the muscle because it lengthens as a substitute of because it contracts
  • Power coaching within the rotator cuff and scapular muscle groups
  • Stretching and joint mobilization

To assist deal with shoulder ache, your PT could counsel supplementing these workout routines with different modalities equivalent to laser remedy, electromagnetic nerve stimulation or TENS, and cryotherapy


In this managed trial, sufferers with bursitis or shoulder impingement benefited greatest from bodily remedy therapy that included train, joint mobilization, and laser remedy. Related proof exists for rotator cuff tendinopathy; when dosed appropriately underneath the steerage of a PT, eccentric workout routines for the scapular muscle groups and rotator cuff muscle groups can scale back ache and enhance shoulder operate. And for sufferers with rotator cuff tears, bodily remedy has confirmed to be a profitable non-surgical therapy. Actually, 75% of the sufferers on this examine benefited sufficient from PT to not want surgical procedure on their full-thickness rotator cuff tear.  

Low Again Ache (Lumbar Radiculopathy)

About 40% of American adults have again ache, and it’s the main reason behind lacking work. For those who’re a part of that statistic, you know the way debilitating and discouraging again ache might be. 

Low again ache often refers to ache within the area of your backbone beneath your lowest ribs. This ache could also be capturing, throbbing, or radiating down a leg. When low again ache outcomes from a pinched sciatic nerve, it could point out a situation referred to as lumbar radiculopathy. 

Bodily therapists deal with lumbar radiculopathy with a few of the following methods:

  • Therapeutic cardio train, equivalent to strolling and biking
  • Resistance and power coaching for the glutes, hips, and hamstrings
  • Activation of trunk muscle groups and trunk mobility
  • Stretching, therapeutic massage and soft-tissue mobilization


Throughout a number of research, analysis reveals that bodily remedy remedies produce higher outcomes for sufferers with low again ache than do different kinds of remedies. On this case report, researchers discovered that the handbook remedy and stabilization workout routines carried out in PT can successfully scale back again ache. And placing it off solely makes it worse: An early begin to bodily remedy results in extra strong outcomes on the 4-week, 6-month, and 1-year mark than ready just a few weeks to begin therapy. 

Knee Arthritis

does pt really work for knee pain

Ache and stiffness within the knee could point out arthritis, of which there are dozens of types. However osteoarthritis (a degeneration of the cartilage within the joint) and rheumatoid arthritis (a swelling of the synovial membrane within the knee) are the 2 most widespread. Though each are genetic and troublesome to stop, you may handle the signs of ache and swelling. Opioids is one widespread—and controversial—resolution, however pharmacological intervention isn’t the one strategy to deal with arthritis. 

To deal with knee arthritis the bodily remedy manner, you’ll endure a few of the following interventions:

  • Therapeutic cardio train, equivalent to strolling and biking
  • Resistance and power coaching for the quads, hips, and hamstrings
  • Steadiness coaching
  • Stretching, therapeutic massage and soft-tissue mobilization


Even arthritis can’t stand as much as the true outcomes bodily remedy can convey. On this examine, sufferers with knee osteoarthritis who acquired remedy (consisting of handbook remedy and a typical knee train program) scored higher on their knee operate, ache and stiffness than their placebo counterparts on the 4-week, 8-week, and 1-year mark. Simply because arthritis is incurable doesn’t imply intervention is nugatory. Bodily remedy can provide the instruments you have to enhance your high quality of life and keep robust regardless of the illness.  

Achilles Tendonitis

One other affliction we see usually within the PT clinic is heel ache. If the ache is within the backside of the heel, it could be plantar fasciitis; if it’s the again of the heel, achilles tendonitis is the seemingly perpetrator. The painful irritation of achilles tendonitis usually arises from overuse, particularly in athletes. 

Once I see heel ache within the clinic, I exploit the next bodily remedy methods to assist my affected person discover long-term reduction:

  • Stretching of the soleus, gastrocnemius, and hamstring muscle groups
  • Strengthening workout routines equivalent to heel lifts
  • Eccentric workout routines, or actions that strengthen the muscle because it lengthens versus because it contracts
  • The sporting of evening splints and orthotics


Achilles ache might be troublesome to deal with, however analysis reveals that bodily remedy—particularly eccentric train—can present a few of the most optimistic outcomes. On this examine, sufferers with mid-calf achilles tendonitis got 12 weeks of eccentric workout routines as a part of a bodily remedy routine. In comparison with sufferers who relied solely on splints, the sufferers with bodily remedy reported much less ache and higher functioning even as much as a 12 months after the examine started. 

What Concerning the Value of Bodily Remedy?

Alright, you could concede: maybe bodily remedy actually does work. However what concerning the prices? Is it actually as precious as its worth?

First, think about how a lot it prices to not undergo together with your PT. How a lot are you paying for various cures? These can vary from years of medicine (and the unintended effects they usually engender) to the price of surgical procedure and the rehab it can require.

Then take into consideration the worth PT can convey to your life. Can you place a worth on much less ache, higher mobility, and even an extended life expectancy? If PT actually does work—which the analysis says it does—then the worth of those advantages can be on the desk.

Whereas such thought experiments could really feel summary and inexact, the American Bodily Remedy Affiliation truly crunched the numbers and got here up with the worth of PT for a number of widespread circumstances. Of their report, The Financial Worth of PT within the US, they discovered that bodily remedy for low again ache is price $4,160 over its prices. Equally, treating knee osteoarthritis with bodily remedy brings, on common, a internet worth of $13,981 in prevented prices and improved high quality of life.  

So in case your objection to PT is all the way down to prices, I’d argue you may’t afford not to do bodily remedy!

the value of physical therapy

Verdict: Does Bodily Remedy Actually Work?

From head to toe—neck ache to heel ache—bodily remedy can enhance affected person outcomes and produce long-lasting advantages that outweigh their prices. Though pharmacological therapy and multimodal remedies can supply some reduction, there’s nothing like therapeutic train and stretching for serving to reset and restore the physique. Bodily remedy does work, and it helps thousands and thousands of individuals yearly.

Are you able to do bodily remedy by yourself? Probably. However PTs have labored with numerous different people who find themselves affected by what you might be too. We’re motion consultants who can coach you thru every remedy, administer particular modalities within the clinic, and guarantee you might have the suitable dosing for every therapy. Finally, following the skilled steerage of a PT will enable you discover reduction quick and get you again to doing what you’re keen on, be it strolling, working outdoors, enjoying sports activities, or dwelling independently.

If you’re able to get began, take a look at this submit about tips on how to discover a good PT clinic.

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