physical therapy, physical therapist, chiropractor amarillo, amarillo chiropractor near me

What Happens If Physical Therapy Doesn't Help?

When PT Fails, Then What?

For this discussion, I'm just talking about non-complicated musculoskeletal issues. No tumors, no post-surgical recovery, no stroke recovery, nothing of that sort. Think more along the lines of back pain, knee pain, shoulder, or neck pain. Something on that scale. 

If you have had experience seeking medical treatment for pain of this nature, then you are probably familiar with the referral to Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy has been able to position itself as the first referral for non-complicated musculoskeletal pain in the eyes of the medical profession. I could go on for hours about why I believe chiropractors are not considered the first referral but I would get too far off of topic.

Getting back to the point, Physical Therapy is highly valuable, performed by highly trained and educated providers, and can really make a big difference in people's lives. Let's be honest though; not everything is a silver bullet. Lots of times, Physical Therapy does not resolve the pain. Heck, surgery for these types of issues has a pretty miserable success rate. Pain is just difficult to say the least. Especially pain that has been allowed to hang out for an extended amount of time. 

Because pain can be so difficult, I'm careful to counsel patients and let them know that just because PT fails doesn't mean that PT can't help them. Just because a chiropractor didn't help them before doesn't mean that chiropractic can't help. It usually means that you needed a change in scenery. Not all providers are created equally and not all patients are perfect fits for the specific talents a specific provider brings to the table. 

Keep this in mind should you find yourself trying to avoid surgery. If you're not getting out of pain, a change of scenery may be just what the doctor ordered. 

Within the typically medical procedures, when a patient fails PT, there is not a lot of time before things start accelerating and treatment gets escalated. Patients are not typically moved to a different PT in a continued effort to avoid escalating things. Insurance covers a round of PT and should it not be effective, the patient is then sent to one of two places:

  1. Pain Management, which may include potentially dangerous and addictive medications, burning or cutting nerves, implanting devices that may deaden pain, epidural spinal injections, and things of that nature. 
  2. Surgery - Surgery has a terrible success rate, because pain is difficult, and it's permanent. There's no going back. In addition, the American College of Physicians recommends it as the very last resort after spinal manipulative therapy, exercise, massage, acupuncture, yoga, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other recommended first-line treatments are all tried and failed. It happens a lot out of order when it should have been the last resort. 

These are the most common 'next steps'. But are they the most responsible or appropriate next steps?

What if it's your mother or your sister or your child? What would you like to see happen if PT is not immediately helpful? Would you like to see them try other forms of safe, non-invasive, non-pharmacologic treatments? Wouldn't you prefer your family member or best friend to avoid surgery if they can?


The majority of what the American College of Physicians recommends as first-line therapy for back pain is available here at Creek Stone. These include spinal manipulative therapy, exercise, massage, low-level medication, low-level laser, and acupuncture. 

When PT fails, there are lots of options left instead of direct referrals to pain management or surgery. When PT fails, a broad management protocol like is found here at Creek Stone Integrated Medical can usually step in and flip the script, getting the patient back on the track to less pain and more life. 

This improves the lives of our patients on many levels including more sleep, better relationships with their loved ones, more quality time spent doing what they love, and more overall productivity. When you feel better, you feel like doing more!

When PT fails and you're not ready for pain management or surgery, call us at 806-355-3000 and let us take care of you. Less pain, more life. 



Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP is double Board Certified as a Fellow in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and Orthopedics as well as a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Professionals, and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast ( Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected] Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at

Dr. Williams was voted Best Chiropractor In Amarillo in the Best of Amarillo 2020 & 2021. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Medical at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109. If you are searching for a chiropractor near me, Dr. Williams is your Amarillo Chiropractor.  


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Jeff S Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP

Jeff S Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP


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