Unlocking the Benefits of Physical Therapy: Don’t Miss Out on Your Healing Journey

A recent study conducted by Jason A. Sharpe and his colleagues has revealed a startling statistic: nearly eight out of ten patients prescribed physical therapy do not receive the treatment they need. Published in the journal Family Practice in June 2021, this study sheds light on a concerning trend in healthcare.1 Musculoskeletal conditions are widespread and can lead to significant disability and high healthcare costs, yet many patients who could benefit from physical therapy miss out on this essential treatment.

The Significance of Physical Therapy

Musculoskeletal conditions encompass a wide range of issues affecting the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints. These conditions can cause pain, restrict mobility, and reduce one’s overall quality of life. Fortunately, physical therapy has been recommended as an effective treatment for many musculoskeletal conditions. It offers a non-invasive, drug-free approach to managing and alleviating pain, improving mobility, and enhancing overall physical function.

Benefits of Physical Therapy

1. Pain Management: Physical therapists are experts in techniques and exercises designed to reduce pain, making it an excellent option for those looking to avoid or minimize opioid use.

2. Improved Mobility: Physical therapy helps patients regain and enhance their range of motion, enabling them to perform daily activities with greater ease.

3. Avoiding Surgery: In many cases, physical therapy can help patients avoid the need for surgical interventions.

4. Prevention of Future Injuries: Physical therapists can educate patients on proper body mechanics and exercises to prevent recurrent injuries.

5. Enhanced Quality of Life: By addressing musculoskeletal issues, physical therapy can significantly improve one’s overall quality of life.

What the Study Revealed

Sharpe’s study, conducted at the University of Utah Health system, included a substantial sample of patients with musculoskeletal conditions. The findings were illuminating. Of the 15,877 patients who were referred to physical therapy, only 3,812 (24%) followed through and accessed physical therapy after referral. The study identified several factors associated with patients not adhering to physical therapy recommendations, including obesity, ethnicity, having public insurance, and referrals from urgent care facilities.

Addressing the Discrepancy

The study’s results emphasize the need for a deeper examination into the factors influencing patients’ access to physical therapists. While the study highlighted specific factors that may be associated with poor adherence to physical therapy recommendations, it’s essential to remember that the decision to engage with physical therapy is often multifaceted. Individual circumstances, personal preferences, and a lack of awareness about the benefits of physical therapy can also play a significant role.

Why You Shouldn’t Miss Out on Physical Therapy

If your doctor prescribes physical therapy as part of your treatment plan, it’s crucial to consider the potential benefits and the impact on your health and well-being. It’s an opportunity to actively participate in your recovery and improve your overall quality of life. Don’t let these barriers prevent you from accessing a valuable form of care.

The recent study by Jason A. Sharpe and his team has brought to light an alarming trend in healthcare – a significant number of patients do not follow through with physical therapy recommendations. The benefits of physical therapy are clear, offering an effective, non-invasive solution to musculoskeletal conditions. If your doctor prescribes physical therapy, make sure to take advantage of this valuable resource for your health and well-being. It’s time to break down the barriers and ensure that you don’t become one of the eight out of ten patients who miss out on the healing journey that physical therapy can offer. Your body and quality of life will thank you for it.


  1. Jason A. Sharpe, Brook I. Martin, John Magel, Julie M. Fritz, Megan E. Vanneman, Anne Thackeray, Effect of Patient Use of Physical Therapy After Referral for Musculoskeletal Conditions on Future Medical Utilization: A Retrospective Cohort Analysis, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Volume 44, Issue 8, 2021, Pages 621-636, ISSN 0161-4754, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2022.01.001.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email