Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Although back pain prevention is is preferred to treatment, early back pain treatment is better than waiting to jump into a therapy program, according to new research.
For their study, researchers at the University of Washington reviewed 150,000 insurance claims to determine how individuals with spine pain were best treated. What they found was that patients with low back pain who saw a physical therapist at their first point of care had an 89 percent lower probability of receiving an opioid prescription and a 15 percent lower probability of an emergency department visit. That being said, these individuals also had a 19 percent higher probability of hospitalization for their spinal issue.
Researchers were quick to point out that the increase in hospitalization rates weren’t necessarily associated with a poor experience at physical therapy. Instead, they were more likely to be the result of unresolved musculoskeletal problems that couldn’t be addressed by the physical therapist.
Physical Therapy and Low Back Pain
Aside from reducing your likelihood of needing a prescription or heading to the emergency room, an early consultation with a physical therapist had one other major benefit for back pain sufferers – lowered costs. Patients who saw a physical therapist at their first visit had significantly lower out-of-pocket costs associated with their spine pain.
“Given our findings in light of the national opioids crisis, state policymakers, insurers and providers may want to review current policies and reduce barriers to early and frequent access to physical therapists as well as to educate patients about the potential benefits of seeing a physical therapist first,” said study lead author Dr. Bianca Frogner.
Dr. Frogner said that people in all 50 states have the right to seek some level of care from a physical therapist without getting physician referral, but most people with low back pain don’t take advantage of this option due to the potential headaches with their insurance company and ensuring the visit is covered. However, making sure you talk to a physical therapist sooner rather than later is associated with better and cheaper treatment outcomes, so make sure you prioritize physical therapy when seeing a spine specialist for your pain.
Orthopaedic Spine Specialist
So if you’ve been bothered by low back pain, consider reaching out to Dr. Sinicropi. Aside from being well-versed in physical therapy programs that could help with your specific situation, he also works closely with a number of different physical therapists, so he can refer you to one in your area that can get you the therapy you need. For more information about implementing a physical therapy program for your lower back pain, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.