Is physiotherapy worth the money?

Private Physiotherapy Can Seem Expensive, But Is It Really?

In Canada, the vast majority of physiotherapy clinics offer private physiotherapy services. We do have a publicly funded physiotherapy system, but there are specific rules that make someone eligible to receive it. Physiotherapy is offered publicly to those who have been directly referred by their doctor and who meet one of the following criteria:


  • Over 65 years of age
  • Aged 19 or younger
  • Have had an overnight stay at a hospital in the last 12 months that is directly involved with your need for physiotherapy; all ages
  • You are a current recipient of Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program; all ages


So, if you’re between the ages of 20 and 64, and you require physiotherapy services – you most likely have to pay for it yourself (exceptions being some injuries that occurred at work or in a car accident). Some people have private insurance coverage through their employers, but many do not.

The cost of private physiotherapy sessions is variable depending on the city you live in, however, it will likely cost between $80 and $150 for an assessment, and $60-$120 for a follow up treatment. At the time of writing this post, we charge $89 for assessments and $69 for treatments here at Strive.

To paint a picture, let’s use our appointment costs. If it takes 10 appointments (1 assessment and 9 treatments) to get better, that’s $710. That is not an upfront cost; it would be spread out over several weeks or months depending on your injury and goals. $710 is still a large number, but is it worth it? Let’s see:

Physiotherapy helps you get back to the life you want to live

When we are injured or in pain, or we simply can’t do the functional things we want to do, we will likely have a bit of an identity crisis. If someone identifies as being athletic, but their injury prevents them from running, they won’t feel like an athlete. If a new mother can’t carry or care for their baby, they’ll likely feel defeated. If a 70 year old person can’t get on and off the floor to play with their grandchildren, they won’t be able to enjoy this time as much.

Physiotherapists are trained to help individuals manage (or eliminate) their pain, recover from injuries, and safely return to the functional things they want (or need) to do. Oftentimes, they’ll have strategies to keep you doing a version of these important things while they help you fully recover in the background.

Being able to live the life you want, or the life you identify with is priceless. If you’ve had a significant injury, (and especially if physiotherapy helped you recover) you probably agree with this. If you haven’t, you might still be thinking $710+ seems pretty steep, so let’s examine some more numbers:

It costs SIGNIFICANTLY LESS than what people in pain are truly willing to pay

The National Bureau of Economic Research in the US released an eye-opening working paper in 2017 that posed a series of questions around quality of life, income, and living with pain.

“Considering your overall satisfaction with life being often troubled by pain, what would you be willing to pay to be just as happy but without pain?” The answer? Between $56 and $145 (USD). Per day.

Which works out to $20,000 to $53,000 per year. At the time the paper was released, the median household income in the US was $56,000 per year.

This means people would be willing to give up their entire livelihood just to live pain-free. This is a clear illustration of the impact living with pain has.

Going back to the cost of a (probably overestimated) physiotherapy plan of care, $710 total dollars doesn’t seem like that much anymore, does it? In fact, the above paper shows us that many people would be willing to pay for a $69 physiotherapy treatment EVERY SINGLE DAY if it meant living without pain. Luckily, most physiotherapy plans involve treatment sessions for only 1-3 days a week, and not forever.

You can learn lifelong skills

Physiotherapists are also educators. We can teach people about the human body and what pain is. Furthermore, we can teach people how to safely exercise, or how to manage pain flare-ups. If you’re uninjured and performance is your goal, we’re also able to educate you on injury-prevention strategies, while helping you reach peak performance. This learning can be applied across your lifespan, and empower you to self-manage your own health long-term.

Another place people (hopefully) learn lifelong skills is at University. In Canada, we pay a lot to learn these lifelong skills. Taking an updated look at the University of Waterloo’s website tuition for 1 year now ranges from $7,700 to $17,100 per year plus books and supplies. A “year” is 10 total courses. This equals to about $770-$1710 per course.

Comparing this to our above physiotherapy plan of 10 total appointments totaling $710, our “Fix current Pain and Injury 101” course is a great deal.

Continue or return to work

Another tough part about getting injured is that you may miss time at work. Physiotherapists can help you understand strategies to manage your pain at work or at home before/after work shifts. We can also help advocate for you to potentially modify duties or hours to keep you working in some capacity. Furthermore, we can help rehabilitate things back to a level where you could comfortably work sooner than if you had no professional help at all.

Let’s take the worst case scenario and say you did have to go off work while injured. If your $710 worth of physiotherapy gets you back to work just one week sooner, it more than pays for itself. Totally worth it in my opinion.

Conclusion Physiotherapists can help people better understand their individualized pain/function problem, while teaching them life-long self-management skills for improved quality of life. Although a physiotherapy plan of care will probably cost you a few hundred dollars, it is undoubtedly worth every penny. Living an active and comfortable life is priceless.

Considering physiotherapy in Kitchener, but still think it’s too expensive for what you can afford? Let us know. We’re always willing to work together to find a strategy that focuses on self-management from the early stages to try and minimize the costs. Call us at 519-895-2020, and we’ll help you get started.

Thanks for reading.

Tyler Allen

Physiotherapist at Strive Physiotherapy & Performance


  1. Ólafsdóttir, T., Ásgeirsdóttir, T. L., & Norton, E. C. (2017). Valuing pain using the subjective well-being method (No. w23649). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Leave a Reply