Consumers have many options to choose from when they are seeking care for any type of musculoskeletal injury. Have you ever considered seeing a physical therapist first? Studies have shown that when patients seek out a physical therapist first for care, they have fewer tests performed, less imaging taken, fewer injections and surgeries. Further, the estimated costs associated with low back pain treatment were less when patients consulted a physical therapists first1. Powerful and effective information to process – especially in the world we live in now with higher premiums, co-pays and insurance costs.
Consider this abstract which summarizes a study in 2016…
Results showed that compared with overall averages, patients who saw a PT first recorded fewer radiographs (32.7% of all patients compared with 16.7% of PT patients), advanced imaging (12.6% overall, 6.2% for PT patients), emergency department visits (4.2% overall, 2.1% of PT patients), spinal injections (9.2% overall, 2.1% of PT patients), and surgeries (2.4% overall, with no PT patients receiving surgery). The only area in which PT patients had higher utilization rates than the overall rates was for surgeon visits, where 6.2% of PT patients reported a visit, compared with an overall 4.8% rate.
In terms of estimated costs associated with LBP treatment, patients who consulted a PT first averaged $904 after 1 year, similar to the $878 estimate associated with a first visit to a chiropractor, but much lower than the $2,283 in cost linked to certain physicians. An initial visit to a primary care provider resulted in estimated 1-year costs of $1,167. Overall average cost was estimated at $1,194.
One key differentiating factor when seeing a physical therapist is the time spent with patients/clients. Oftentimes, patient appointments are 1 hour with at least up to 30 minutes of one-on-one, manual treatment. This allows for much more patient education as well as time to teach one how to progress between treatments and ultimately, what they need to do when they are discharged from physical therapy.
At Emery Physical Therapy, we offer a unique recovery model that focuses on one-on-one care for your individual needs. Call us today at 847-786-2014.
- Fritz JM, Kim J3, Dorius J4. Importance of the type of provider seen to begin health care for a new episode low back pain: associations with future utilization and costs. J Eval Clin Pract.2016 Apr;22(2):247-52.