4 Reasons to Choose Therapy Before Surgery
PT prior to Surgery

*Note: This article about surgery and physical therapy was written by one of our great team members, Susannah Azofeifa, PT, DPT. 


Thinking About Having Surgery?


Oftentimes, when people hurt themselves they may think that undergoing surgery is the only option. However, this is far from the truth!


Physical therapy provides a low risk, highly beneficial option to address a recent injury or a chronic ache/pain that won’t seem to go away. While there is absolutely a time and place for surgical intervention, it may not always be the most beneficial first choice. 

Below, I have put together a list of reasons you should opt for physical therapy before undergoing surgery (if your injury is not life-threatening, of course). 


Here’s a list of reasons to choose PT 1st:

  1. Low Cost
  2. Low Risk
  3. High Benefit
  4. Possibility of avoiding surgery


Below, we dive into a bit more detail about each item on that list.


1. Lower cost than surgery

Physical therapy is relatively inexpensive and you can even see a physical therapist without a referral from a doctor. It is much less expensive to attend physical therapy for a few weeks vs. undergoing surgery!

2. Lower risk than surgery

While you may become sore following physical therapy, this is a very low risk  option if you are injured and looking for a less invasive form of pain relief. It may also put you at ease knowing that physical therapists are educated extensively on certain patterns and red flags to look out for to know when/if a person needs to be referred back to a medical doctor for further consultation. As Rafi mentioned on our video about rotator cuff pain and surgery, research suggests giving conservative treatments like therapy a try before jumping to inherently more risky procedures, like surgery. 

3. High benefit 

Oftentimes, it can be very beneficial to see a physical therapist to reduce pain, restore function, and improve strength. A patient can work together with a physical therapist to come up with functional and individualized goals. 

4. Possibility to avoid surgical intervention 

When a person gets some form of imagining, they may be told something along the lines of: degenerative changes, bone on bone, bone spur, or rotator cuff tear – these are just a few examples. All of these things may scare a person, rightfully so. But, I am here to assure you that these are things that you can live with and sometimes even forget about. With an individualized plan of care that is developed alongside your physical therapist, there are many different ways to improve strength deficits, decrease pain, and improve function and mobility – all of which may be contributing to your symptoms. People may even return to their prior level of function, performing their daily activities without pain! This is a win-win situation! 



If you injure yourself or have chronic, long standing pain and are unsure if surgery is the right option… go see a physical therapist! (Book an appointment with us here!) A physical therapist will work together with you to address your current complaints and improve your function. If symptoms worsen or do not improve, the next step involves referring the patient back to the doctor for further consultation. Whatever the scenario may be, physical therapy is a cost effective, non-invasive solution that can decrease symptoms and improve your quality of life! 


Susannah Azofeifa, PT, DPT was born and raised in Owensboro, Kentucky but now calls North Augusta, SC home. She attended the University of Louisville and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology/Exercise Science in 2017. She then attended Breanu University where she received her doctorate of physical therapy in 2021. Susannah enjoys treating a wide range of orthopedic conditions and also specializes in treating pelvic floor dysfunction, and pre and post partum individuals. She enjoys spending time doing activities such as CrossFit, being outdoors, traveling, being with family, and spending time with her husband, Fabian. She heads up our Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy (PFPT) program here at ProActive.



[1] Benefits and Harms of Interventions With Surgery Compared to Interventions Without Surgery for Musculoskeletal Conditions: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysisSøren T. Skou, Erik Poulsen, Alessio Bricca, Mette Dideriksen, L. Stefan Lohmander, Ewa M. Roos, and Carsten B. Juhl. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 2022 52:6, 312-344

Are you dealing with pain?

We understand that struggling with the stress and strain of pain can be tough…Whether it’s waking up feeling stiff or severe tension after walking, running, or playing, no one wants to spend each day dealing with the soreness that pain brings. While many people choose surgery or injections for pain relief, at ProActive Rehabilitation & Wellness, we offer non-surgical therapies which prevents patients from going under the knife.


If you’d like to book a pain consultation now, with one of our top clinicians, click the button bellow or have your provider fax over a referral. We only book a limited amount of these consultations each month, so act quickly before they’re gone.

Rafi Salazar OT

Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L (Rafi) is the CEO & President of Proactive Rehabilitation & Wellness, as well as the Principal Owner of Rehab U Practice Solutions and the host of The Better Outcomes Show. He has experience in a variety of rehab settings, working with patients recovering from a variety of injuries and surgeries. He worked as the lead clinician in an outpatient specialty clinic at his local VA Medical center, where he worked on projects to improve patient & employee engagement and experience throughout the organization. He has experience as a faculty member at Augusta University’s Occupational Therapy Program, as a Licensed Board Member on the GA State OT Board, has served on several committees for the national OT Board (NBCOT), and as a consultant working for the State of Georgia’s DBHDD. He is also on the Board of Directors for NBCOT. Rafi also authored the book Better Outcomes: A Guide to Humanizing Healthcare