Physical Therapy Versus Drugs And SurgeryThere are millions of people all over the country, with tens of thousands of them in New York City alone who have an injury. Oftentimes it seems like they face two options- surgery or using opioid painkillers,  sometimes both.

These patients may have a third choice – physical therapy, which can either strengthen the hurt area or make them strong enough to possibly get through any surgery without the need for pain pills or only using over-the-counter things like Tylenol, which has significantly less chance of addiction. 

Physical therapists can do a lot to help patients avoid things like surgeries or drugs

Avoiding Surgeries 

Surgery used to be the first option for a lot of people. Cuf First, Heal Later. That kind of thinking has been changing over the years. Now it may be Physical Therapy First, Cut Last.

There are times when people, after consulting with medical experts, may choose to do physical therapy to strengthen the area around the injury, thus acting as a buffer. One well-known case was New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who opted to go that route rather than undergo Tommy John rotator cuff surgery, a process that has at least a year recovery time and does not guarantee a return to form.

Patients with back conditions like lumbar spinal stenosis may see better results than surgery. When a patient goes under the knife, there’s often downtime after that and then a physical therapy regimen. By doing the physical therapy, they avoid the downtime and subsequent recovery.

That uncertainty is why physical therapy may be the best option. Yes, medicine has made enormous strides over the decades, but there is still a chance for error in what might seem to be the most “routine” of surgery. The more complex the surgery, the higher the chance of complications that could lead to set-backs, both physical and mental.

Avoiding Opioids

There’s no getting around the fact that there is an opioid problem in the United States. They were irresponsibly prescribed by many doctors and now there are many people who are reliant and addicted to them – often doing detrimental things to both their own lives and the lives of people around them, both close friends and family, and strangers.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Physical therapy can help reduce pain without any prescription drugs being needed. The reason patients were prescribed the medication was a wrong-headed approach to just mask the pain.

One area that physical therapists can hone in on is helping the patient with their perception of pain. They can also work with their whole mindset, since stress can play a big part in a patient’s recuperation. If a patient is overly reliant on painkillers, then the physical therapist can work on weaning him or her off the drug while strengthening problem areas.


There are going to be times when surgery is required or some sort of pain medication is needed. The thing is – those should be the absolute last resort, especially the medication. The patient may have an injury that cannot be regulated via physical therapy or there may be a pain that does need medication to get them through a rough early patch. 

People who do physical therapy first may wind up being very pleasantly surprised at the results and be able to live a much higher-quality lifestyle than they previously anticipated. Physical therapy often gives them a better chance at being able to do that.


When patients come into the doors of Empire Physical Medicine and Pain Management, they will be getting so much more than just an alternative to the two things listed above. Whether they choose the Midtown Manhattan or Wall Street location, they will be getting a top-notch physical therapy experience.

First, Dr. Steven Moalemi, an expert in physiatry, will diagnose their problem – which could be anything from foot and ankle pain to shoulder and neck pain to everything in between. Patients will benefit from a full-workup where no stone is left unturned.

Dr. Moalemi, who has been in the forefront of his field for many years, has reached that position for a reason; he is constantly following the trends of the field and has the most advanced technology at his fingertips. He ensures that his staff are also up-to-date with the ever-changing field. This is, any patient who comes to Empire, will have a state-of-the-art rehab experience.

Those options include things like platelet-rich plasma and spinal decompression. There are trigger point injections and acupuncture, just to name a few things

This is a practice that puts patients first in their quest for recovery and pain management. People can come see for themselves by visiting either the midtown Manhattan location or the one near Wall Street. They can also call 646-665-7109 to learn more about how they can get on the road to getting back on track.