Early Physical Therapy For Low Back Pain Shows Better Outcomes, Lower Cost

Low back pain patients who underwent early physical therapy reportedly had better outcomes than those who did not. Early physical therapy was also more cost-effective, according to researchers.

In the study, published recently in the journal Spine, researchers studied the effect of early physical therapy on 220 patients with low back pain, with respect to both outcomes and costs.

All of the patients visited a primary care provider between March 2011 and November 2013. In addition, they all were between 18 and 60 years of age, had a current low back pain episode of less than 16 days’ duration, their pain did not move below the knee, and they showed no clinical signs of nerve root compression.

The overall result was that patients who started physical therapy early did better than those who did not.  Those that did start physical therapy early also reported greater quality of life after 1 year.  Accordingly, these patients also had higher initial direct healthcare costs.  However, the incremental cost-effectiveness for this group was below the typical willingness-to-pay threshold, and so early physical therapy was found to be cost effective in the treatment of low back pain, the release explains.

When you take this data and combine it with recent studies done on the high costs of pain medications, using physical therapy as the answer to back pain looks to be the best answer for pain relief.  In a recent University of Michigan poll of 2,131 adults done in July/August 2017, one in four said that prescription drugs were a financial burden, yet half of them never discussed the problem with doctors. 

After everything is said and done, all the evidence really points to one fact:

getting in to physical therapy as soon as possible offers patients the best, cost-effective way to getting rid of back pain

Make that appointment today.  Your back, and your wallet, will thank you later.

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Dr. James Pumarada is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 18+ years of experience. He is a Sports Therapy Certified therapist, focusing on treating and training runners of all levels, and is a certified Vestibular therapist, specializing in the treatment of all dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance issues.

He is the co-owner of Complete Physical Rehabilitation, a Physical Therapy practice based in Elizabeth and Jersey City, NJ.