New research out of Johns Hopkins Medicine found that connecting with a physical therapist during the early stages of back pain was associated with a significant reduction in the likelihood of using a variety of medical resources. In other words, if you have back pain, early physical therapy can greatly reduce future medical costs by treating the problem effectively before it requires more invasive attention.
For their study, researchers looked at nearly one million health insurance claims between 2010 and 2014. The average age of the de-identified patient was 47 years old, and roughly 11 percent of these individuals were treated with physical therapy within two weeks of their initial lower back pain onset. Researchers examined the healthcare resources and the cost of low back pain-related services between the two groups, both at 30 days and one year after symptom development.
Early PT Reduced Medical Resource Need
After comparing the two groups, researchers uncovered that those whose low back pain was treated with early physical therapy had:
- Significantly lower use of health care researchers, such as emergency room visits, advanced imaging, speciality appointments and epidural steroid injections, both in the first month and first year after symptom presentation.
- Spent less money on low back pain-related services.
Researchers concluded that physical therapy could be both an effective and cost-effective treatment in the near future.
“As the U.S. population ages, the prevalence of lower back pain is expected to increase, along with the associated costs of treating it,” said Richard Skolasky Jr., Sc.D., M.A., the study’s senior author and the director of the Johns Hopkins Spine Outcomes Research Center. “Furthermore, with advances in imaging and treatments, the cost of managing lower back pain has increased substantially. Our findings have important implications that may guide health care policy when examining downstream health care costs and resource utilization.”
So if you want to reduce or eliminate your lower back pain and greatly reduce the likelihood of a collection of medical bills, jump into a physical therapy program at the first sign of low back pain. We have a number of PTs that would be more than happy to help set you up with a plan to rid you of your back discomfort. For more information, or for help with a different physical issue, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialist today.