Choose Physical Therapy and Avoid Surgery

09/04/13 8:40 AM


Who doesn’t like a quick fix?  Winning the lottery… swallowing a magic pill… finding a Genie in a bottle… falling in love at first sight… all these things sound great.

Of course, the odds of them happening are pretty slim and, the way humans are wired, that elusive quality only makes a quick fix more desirable compared to earning money, eating well and exercising, making our own dreams come true, and taking time to learn all about that special someone.

Unfortunately, the same is true of surgery versus physical therapy.  Most people tend to weigh the hours spend unconscious on a surgical table against weeks or months in therapy and see a surgery as the easy solution.

Most surgeons will tell you, the knife is the last resort.  Opening the body to make any changes isn’t like popping the hood on a car.  There are significant risk factors and the recovery can be a trial.

Don’t get us wrong; we think of surgery as a vital part of today’s medical care and have seen some very wonderful results.

Surgery doesn’t replace therapy.  Often, physical therapy is a necessary component of a surgical patient’s recovery process, to help healing and make sure everything works the way it’s supposed to work.

Physical therapy is often the less expensive alternative to surgery.  A proper therapist provides an individualized, focuses session in a one-on-one setting, whereas a surgical team consists of several highly trained individuals.  At the end of the day, everyone needs to be compensated for his or her time.

At the Physical Therapy Center of Bristol, we’ve heard all the back talk… physical therapists are the same as massage therapists.  It’s true, a massage therapist can become certified after learning special techniques to provide medical care but don’t expect scented candles and New Age music here.

We’ve also heard that physical therapists are sadists and anyone who comes to them in pain will end up feeling a whole lot worse.  That argument is simply not true and unkind to anyone who is suffering.  It implies there is no hope.  Physical therapy may be challenging but, done properly, should not hurt.  Of course, it’s easier to sit rather than exercise; until the day that getting up from that seated position is no longer an option.  Then, the value of moving independently is so important, it’s worth the work to find freedom again.

Oh, and about that fib where therapy doesn’t work, it’s just a waste of time?  The waste of time is living with pain or lack of mobility.  Life is too short to feel anything but healthy and happy.  Physical therapy DOES work and our happiest days are when our patients experience that for themselves.

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