As an orthopedic spine surgeon who performs approximately 500 surgeries a year, my favorite type of patient is the one I never have to see—not even once. The reason for this is that means their musculoskeletal (MSK) issues—any condition or injury affecting joint, bone, tendon or muscle—haven’t progressed to the point where they need to consult with a surgeon.
To put it bluntly, surgery is not always the best answer. Surgery is invasive, expensive and sometimes risky. Often behavior modifications that help with losing weight and increasing mobility, such as exercise, stretching and eating healthily or physical therapy, can successfully address many MSK issues, while at the same time reducing healthcare spending. For example, when physical therapy is the first line of treatment, according to a systematic review in the Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Journal, it results in lower overall healthcare costs, fewer visits to the doctor and better patient mobility.