Intriguing Physical Therapy Statistics (And Facts)

Whether you’re considering using a physical therapist for the first time, or perhaps you’re a regular, you might be interested in finding out more about the profession, success rates, relevant research and data, and the history of the profession.

So we’ve compiled the latest physical therapy statistics, as well as information about how you could join the profession and become part of a fast-growing industry!

History of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy started life as a female only profession! The first professional association was formed in 1921 and was known as the ‘American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association’, and included 274 members.

It quickly changed its name in 1922 to the ‘American Physiotherapy Association’, and men were allowed to join. By 1930 membership had grown to just under 1000 members.

Today, based in headquarters in Virginia, American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 95,000 members throughout the United States.

Did You Know?

During the 1940s and 1950s there was greater demand than ever before for physical therapists, and the association’s membership expanded to 8,000. This was due to the advent of World War II and the nationwide polio epidemic.

What does a Physical Therapist do?

With lower back pain on the rise across the US, physical therapists are very popular!

This was highlighted by Professional Therapy Associates, a Montana-based clinic who reported that over a six month period, 46% of its patients specifically sought relief for their backs.

Over a Six Month Period, 46% of Professional Therapy Associates' Patients Specifically Sought Relief for Their Backs

However it isn’t simply back pain they treat, there are a number of other common conditions that they will offer treatment for too:

  • Arthritis
  • Strokes and other neurological problems
  • Industrial and work related injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Burns
  • Post-operative orthopaedic patients

The term physical therapy covers a range of different interventions, including manual therapy, ice/heat therapy, ultrasound and traction therapy. They aim to improve people’s overall function, movement and general wellbeing.

Their focus is very much on the patient, building up a rapport and working in partnership with them to achieve their goal of recovering or simply learning to live with their condition, whatever it may be.

Physical therapists aim to improve people’s overall function, movement and general wellbeing
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What is the success rate of Physical Therapy treatment?

Through extensive research, statistics widely report physical therapy to be an effective treatment for a number of different conditions.

Interestingly, the journal Health Services Research published results from a study looking into patients suffering from low back pain and the cost benefits of them undergoing physical therapy treatment.

It showed that initial treatment costs were 50% lower when the primary care consultation was followed by a referral to a physical therapist, rather than an advanced imaging referral.

The study also found that using physical therapy as a first treatment strategy resulted in 72% fewer costs within the first year, for the patient.

Physical Therapy Can Reduce Treatment Costs for Patients

Research often focusses on the success rates of recovery of patients who have regular physical therapy treatment vs those who opt for surgery.

In a piece of research by the University of Pittsburgh, they split the group of older patients with Spinal Stenosis – half underwent surgery, with the other half receiving physical therapy treatment. The result, was that overall the different techniques produced the same results for patients.


An award winning study in 2015, demonstrated substantial potential for lowered costs, and reduced healthcare utilization for patients who received, and adhered to physical therapy for low back pain.

How much does a Physiotherapist cost?

Typical Cost of a Physical Therapy Session for Patients Not Covered by Medical Insurance

The cost of physiotherapy can vary widely depending on the statistics you read.

For patients who aren’t covered by medical insurance, a physical therapy session typically costs $50-$350 or more.

Factors that affect the price include:

  • The duration of the session
  • Service provided during the session
  • The level of experience and expertise of the provider

Cost of Physical Therapy Sessions for Patients Covered by Health Insurance vs Those Not

Those who are covered by medical insurance will copay approximately $10-$75 or 10%-50% (sometimes more) towards the cost of the session. When physical therapy is deemed medically necessary it is typically covered by health insurance.

Coinsurance payments vary depending on individual policies.

If you choose to, or are required to, have physical therapy in a hospital setting, then this tends to be more expensive.

Annual Industry Revenue Estimate for Physical Therapy Treatment


Total annual industry revenue for physical therapy treatment is estimated to be $26.6 billion!

Is It Safe to Visit a Physiotherapist?

Overall safety advice is in the main positive, depending on the physical therapy statistics and studies you read.

Physical therapy was in fact proven in a recent study, to even be safe when used on critically ill patients in intensive care units.

Similarly to chiropractic care, it has an excellent safety record when compared to other back pain treatments such as steroids, pain medication and surgery.

How do you become a Physical Therapist?

To become a physical therapist in the US, you must follow a course lasting around 3 years, throughout which time you’ll learn about all the inner workings of the body.

Training to Become a Physical Therapist in the U.S.

Typically 80% of the course is classroom based learning, with 20% dedicated to hands on learning in a clinical environment.

Currently there are roughly 200,000 physical therapists employed across the United States and employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 34% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Projected Growth in Employment of Physical Therapists by 2024

This growth, experts believe, will come from ageing baby boomers, who are staying active later in life.

Similarly to physical therapy, a career as a Chiropractor is said to be growing faster than many other occupations, with a smaller growth of 17% growth predicted from 2014 to 2024. However the time taken to complete a chiropractic course is year longer than a physical therapist and average earnings are less at $58,740 annually.

Map – Where the Best Paid Physical Therapists in Metropolitan Areas of the U.S. Live

Did You Know?

The average Physical Therapist earns $84,020 per year.

If you are interested in becoming a physical therapist it’s worth noting that data from the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, lists the following as being the top paying metropolitan areas for the occupation:

  1. Las Vegas – $135,390 (mean annual wage)
  2. Merced, CA – $130,220 (mean annual wage)
  3. Napa, CA – $125,970 (mean annual wage)

Overview of Physical Therapist Annual Wages

Did You Know?

Forbes ranked Physical Therapists as having 1 of “The Ten Happiest Jobs”!

Fun Fact:

Physical Therapist is clearly an attractive career option in other ways, too. According to research published by the dating app Tinder, users swiped right on women who were physical therapists more than any other profession!

Physical Therapy A Happy and Attractive Profession


  1. American Physical Therapy Association (2017) APTA History. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 8 February 2017].
  2. American Physical Therapy Association (see footnote 1)
  3. JoTo PR (2016) Professional Therapy Associates Releases Spine Pain Statistics Supporting New APTA Low Back Pain Survey Findings. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 25 February 2017].
  4. Childs, J.D. et al (2015) Implications of early and guideline adherent physical therapy for low back pain on utilization and costs. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 8 February 2017].
  5. CostHelper, Inc. (2017) Physical Therapy Cost. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 8 February 2017].
  6. CostHelper, Inc. (see footnote 5)
  7. CostHelper, Inc. (see footnote 5)
  8. CostHelper, Inc. (see footnote 5)
  9. Harris Williams & Co. (2014) Physical Therapy Market Overview. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 8 February 2017].
  10. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015) Physical Therapists. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 8 February 2017].
  11. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (see footnote 10)
  12. The Good Body (2016) Crunching The Numbers: Chiropractic Statistics (And Facts). [Online] Available from: [Accessed 8 February 2017].
  13. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (see footnote 10)
  14. Smith, J. (2013) The Best And Worst Jobs For 2013. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 8 February 2017].
  15. Dredge, S. (2016) Tinder users swipe right most on pilots and physical therapists. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 16 December 2016].

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One comment

  1. It’s interesting to see how many things a physical therapist can help treat. Maybe I should see one, since I think I might have some sort of arthritis. I’ll see if I can find one near me that can help with that.

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