Choosing Physical Therapy First For Low Back Pain Saves $1500 Per Episode Of Care

boulder-low back-pain-treatment

In previous blog posts, we have described the clinical and financial benefits of seeing a Physical Therapist first for treatment of neck or low back pain.  Patients who choose Physical Therapy first experience accelerated recoveries with decreased pain and recurrence rates compared to other providers.  In addition to the clinical benefits, this patient group is also less likely to undergo unnecessary, expensive, and risky interventions such as imaging, injections, and opioid medications.  Taken together patients seen by Physical Therapists first spend significantly less for the same or better recovery compared to other providers.

A recent article in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy followed 600 patients with either neck or low back pain to determine the cost and clinical effectiveness of seeing a Physical Therapist or Primary Care Physician for their care  (Denninger et al. 2017).  Authors reported patients see by direct access or patient self referral to Physical Therapy services spend on average $1543 less than those seen by a primary care physician.  Importantly, both groups demonstrated similar improvements in pain and disability.  This study highlights, the cost savings patients can experience if they choose Physical Therapy first for both their neck and low back pain.