Here's Why Your First Stop for Back Pain Should Be Physical Therapy
Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle and George Washington University in Washington, DC conducted a recent study to examine the effects of physical therapy in people with low back pain. They discovered that, compared to those who see a physical therapist later or not at all, people who have physical therapy first generally have a more favorable outcome.
According to the researchers, back pain patients have an 89 percent lower probability of having a prescription for opioid pain relievers, a 28 percent lower probability of needing advanced imaging services, a 15 percent lower probability of being treated in the emergency room, and a 19 percent higher probability of being hospitalized, when a physical therapist is the first point of care. (Hospitalization is considered a favorable outcome when physical therapists refer patients to specialized care for low back pain that does not resolve by addressing musculoskeletal causes.) Patients who receive physical therapy first also have lower out-of-pocket medical expenses.