For the past week, the pain and stiffness in the lower back has been unbearable. Daily activities like unloading the dishwasher, opening the car door, and taking the trash out are a struggle. Even sneezing is painful. Missing a day of work and a spouse has taken over all childcare duties. In this scenario, an MRI will give the answers, right?
Actually, that’s not the case according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Imaging of the lower spine within the first six weeks doesn’t improve outcomes, but it does increase costs. A study that appeared in the scientific journal Health Services Research concluded that physical therapy costs far less than advanced imaging.
The study, led by researchers Julie M. Fritz, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Gerard P. Brennan, PT, PhD, and Stephen J. Hunter, PT, PhD, OCS, focused on 841 individuals who consulted with a primary care provider about uncomplicated low back pain. Of those individuals, 385 were referred to advanced imaging, 377 were referred to physical therapy, and 79 received a physician specialist visit or other care, including chiropractic.
The average cost differences between the study groups were staggering. An average of 3.8 physical therapy cost about $504 while magnetic resonance imaging rang in at about $1,306. During the subsequent year, costs were 66% lower for the patients who began with a physical therapy referral. Patients in physical therapy spent about $1,871 on their care, whereas the individuals in the imaging cohort spent $6,664.
Stride Strong Physical Therapy, and its newest clinic in Hillsboro, can deliver low-cost alternatives to low back surgery and imaging. A combination of manual therapy and massage, with progressive exercise therapy to strengthen the muscles of the low back and abdominals is used for treatment. The result is that spinal vertebrae are more stable, supported, with muscles spasms less flared up. When a clinic’s average visits per diagnosis being less than 10, personal care is sure to get patients out of pain and back to the usual daily function – regardless whether the pain started as an athletic injury, faulty work posture, or from chronic spine conditions.
Physical therapy is not only the least expensive first step in the treatment of low back pain, but also the most effective. Following an evaluation, a physical therapist takes an active approach to low back pain which often gives the patient the skills needed to self-manage their condition. The physical therapist’s goals include decreasing pain, increasing function and teaching strategies to prevent future back problems.
Physical therapy helps patients get to the heart of what’s causing the back pain and gives them tools to succeed in the future. Patients who are referred to imaging first are more likely [than the physical therapy cohort] to pursue other options including surgery, injections, specialist consultations, and emergency department visits within a year.
About Stride Strong Physical Therapy
Founded in 2012, Stride Strong Physical Therapy’s mission objective is to give patients what they deserve in healthcare. This means: longer appointments times one-on-one with their physical therapist, explanations for why their condition is causing them pain, a step-by-step plan of care on how to improve their prognosis, and adequate billing support for fiscal transparency so patients know what to expect. Stride Strong Physical Therapy currently comprises of a team of 7 physical therapists, each with their dedicated field of expertise. For more information, please visit http://stridestrong.com.
Stride Strong Physical Therapy
United States of America