Call Us 503.928.4914

11010 SE Division Street, Suite 301, Portland, OR 97266

Physical Therapy vs Drugs or Surgery

Posted by Renew Physical Therapy Portland on Thursday, August 1, 2019

Renew_Physical_Therapy_Physical Therapy vs Surgery or Drugs

While surgery and prescription drugs can be the best course of treatment for certain diagnoses, there is increasing evidence to support conservative treatment—like physical therapy—as an alternative, which has been found to be equally effective (and cheaper) for many conditions. Below are some reasons why you should consider physical therapy as an alternative to surgery or prescription opioids for treating chronic pain and other conditions.

Alternative to Surgery: Save Time and Money

Harvard Medical School and New England Journal of Medicine agree. In many cases, physical therapy can be as effective as surgery. Sometimes the appeal of surgery is that it is faster, but in multiple studies, this is not the case. Take a grade III strain, which is a full tear of a ligament. Research shows that patients who choose physical therapy over surgery can return to work 2-4 times faster. Better yet, those who choose physical therapy also had less risk of re-injury. Often the appeal of surgery is a quick fix, but there are no studies to support faster recovery with surgery as opposed to other treatment methods.

You can also save money by seeing a physical therapist first. Additional costs for surgery can include lab tests, x-rays, medical imaging procedures, operating room fees, and other doctors and specialists who are required to provide care related to the surgery. According to, hospital costs average $3,949 per day. Not only does surgery have many costs associated with it, but there is also risk for overtreatment with surgery.

Surgery can be expensive, invasive, and hard to recover from. You can save time and money by opting for physical therapy as an alternative to surgery.

Alternative to Drugs and Opioids: Avoid Risk of Overdose and Addiction

Opioids are usually prescribed for pain management and chronic pain, but according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The overuse of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain is becoming a national public health epidemic.” In fact, since 1999, sales from prescription opioids have quadrupled in the United States.

Aside from overdose and addiction, opioids can sometimes mask the pain, but not resolve the issue. American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA), a national organization dedicated to the support and education of chronic pain treatment, supports physical therapy as a “safer, cheaper, and more effective treatment.”

Physical Therapy is Conservative Care

At Renew Physical Therapy, we are involved in a multidisciplinary approach. Take chronic pain, for example. We work with several pain management clinics in Portland who concurrently use other forms of conservative interventions such as oral medication, injection procedures of medication or prolotherapy, counseling, radiofrequency ablation, spinal electrical stimulator devices, acupuncture, etc. Physical therapists can play a valuable role in the patient education process, including setting realistic expectations for recovery—either with or without opioids or surgery.

There’s a time and a place for surgery and prescription opioids, but conservative care should be tried first. Call a physical therapist first to find out how they can help you.

Did You Know Physical Therapists Are Doctors, Too?

When physical therapy originally became recognized as a profession, one required a bachelor’s degree to practice. In the 1990s, programs transitioned to a Master of Science degree and now in the 21st century, the profession has advanced to the doctoral level. This level of education allows your physical therapist to evaluate and diagnose your condition.

Ask a Physical Therapist First

If you have a general practitioner you trust, ask them to recommend a Physical Therapist. However, you do not need a doctor’s referral to see a physical therapist. In all 50 states, we have direct access. Direct access refers to the ability of patients to seek care from a medical specialist like a physical therapist without requiring a referral from their primary care physician. We realize that physical therapy is not always the only answer to treating your condition. We do recommend seeing a physical therapist first to determine all your options.

How Do I Pick a Physical Therapist in the Portland Area?

As Renew Physical Therapy continues to grow, we have retained our personal approach to our patients. We believe it is because we are unique. Our multiple 5-star PT reviews reinforce the idea that our approach is creating great results. We adhere to a strict “no-pain” rule throughout treatment to ensure steady progress toward a full recovery. No two patients are the same, therefore, each patient is evaluated and treated individually with no cookie-cutter or assembly-line approach.

We are proud that our patients continue to give us 5-star reviews. You can click to read all our physical therapy testimonials.

Visit our About Us page to learn more about our practice, clinic, and staff. Call us at 503.928.4914 to schedule an appointment.


Renew Your Body, Reclaim Your Life!


Categories: 5-Star Reviews, Chronic Pain, Manual Physical Therapy, Overtreatment, Physical Therapist, Physical Therapy, Physical Therapy Clinic, Physical Therapy Referrals, Spinal Manipulation, Testimonials, Therapeutic Modalities