The goal of physical therapy, or PT, is to improve your movement, improve your physical functioning, and reduce pain. It is not a stall that a doctor necessarily insists on prior to a surgery – although it may seem like it some times.

Why is that? A lot of injuries can be repaired with physical therapy. It’s non-invasive, and although it can cause some temporary pain and swelling, and is effective in some situations. Many people are cured with physical therapy and are quite happy. Some injuries, though, require much more. It’s pretty common, however, that your doctor will order PT prior to recommending surgery. If you’re one of the lucky ones whose problems are solved with PT then you’re good with this. If you’re one of the ones who requires surgery… well PT can be frustrating because you feel like it’s a waste of time. In most situations there isn’t any harm in trying the conservative approach first but it can be frustrating.

Following a surgery PT is often necessary to help rebuild your strength and prepare you for a return to work. And while PT often hurts during and afterwards you’ll likely hear your therapist explain that there is a difference between “hurt” and “harm.” As irritating as that is when you hurt… it’s true.