Individuals that suffer from non-traumatic knee injuries often turn to opioid prescriptions, injections, and/or surgery in order to overcome the challenges that they face; however, recent research indicates that those that first opt for physical therapy as the first course of treatment are much less likely to have to turn the previously-mentioned medical treatments.

opioid prescriptions

Opioid Prescriptions, Injections, and Surgeries Eliminated for Patients with Non-Traumatic Based Knee Injuries That First Opted for Physical Therapy

A recent study was conducted that involved a total of 52,204 individuals suffering from non-traumatic knee pain. Sufferers were grouped three ways: “early rehab”, “intermediate rehab”, and “late rehab”. In this blog, we will outline the findings of this very revealing study.

The Categories

In order to appropriately classify each of the three groups evaluated in this study, we feel it is important to outline the time frame of each:

  1. Those that were classified as having “early rehabilitation” are those that received physical therapy services within 15 days of being diagnosed.
  2. Those that were classified as having “intermediate rehabilitation” are those that received physical therapy services 16-120 days following their diagnosis.
  3. Those that were classified as having “late rehabilitation” are those that received physical therapy services over 120 days of receiving their diagnosis.

The data for the study was evaluated, consistently, for a year following the diagnosis of non-traumatic knee pain.

The Findings

According to the study, individuals that elected to receive physical therapy rehabilitative services within 15 days of receiving their diagnosis of non-traumatic knee pain were 33% less likely to eventually end up on narcotic-based analgesic prescriptions for their pain levels. The same group of individuals were found to be 50% less likely to elect for invasive – but, non-surgical – treatments, such as injections using corticosteroids. Those same people were 42% less likely to opt for knee surgery for their pain. The physical therapy provided to this group included various forms of exercise, training to increase functionality, physical manipulation, and manual-based therapies. Additionally, the group was provided with nutritional-based counseling.


Physical therapists have known – throughout the past several years – that the rehabilitation services that they offer patients are much more productive than prescription drugs, injections, and invasive surgeries; however, the medical community is just now starting to actually listen. We should all encourage our patients to opt for our services. Not only will being a part of our network enhance their physiological well-being, but, it will also enhance their psychological well-being. Patients no longer need expensive and potentially-addictive and life-destroying drugs to cope with the pains and challenges posed by their knees and other aspects of their bodies.

Now, they can turn to rehabilitative services and learn how to control and manipulate their own body to enhance their comfort levels. We should push for the medical community to encourage non-pharmacological based treatments – such as physical therapy – before turning to or recommending drugs and injections that not only harm the body, but, also harm the mind. For more information about the role of physical therapy in rehab and similar topics, visit our blog today at: