Where should you go for back pain treatment? A new study points to the physical therapist as a good starting point.
Published in Spine , the study aimed to assess how early physical therapy treatment affected patients' need for further medical care in the future. Researchers looked at records of 32,070 people who had seen a primary care physician to consult about back pain for the first time. Long-term costs were determined for the patients, and those who were referred to physical therapy within the first 2 weeks of consultation showed overall lower medical expenses due to the fact that more of these patients did not need drugs, expensive imaging tests, surgeries , further doctor's visits or pain injections later on.
There are a number of ways in which early physical therapy could improve your prognosis of recovering from back pain. Most cases of lower back pain are mechanical. Finding the cause can be very difficult, but physical therapists are trained to identify dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system. For many people, then, physical therapy could have fast-track their diagnosis and, therefore, treatment.
If the cause of back pain is non-mechanical, such as inflammatory arthritis, a physical therapist is still a great resource. Exercise is part of treatment for nearly every cause of back pain. A physical therapist will likely be able to prescribe you exercises to strengthen your core and provide support to your back without causing further pain or injury.
The help that a physical therapist provides does not end when you walk out of the office on your last visit. The goal is to provide you with a new understanding of your body and how to keep it healthy. The exercises and stretches you learn should be continued to ensure that your results last.
Finally, physical therapy is a proactive form of treatment. Unlike drugs and surgery, physical therapy claims that you will be an active part of your treatment and that you look to your body to heal itself. This can instill in pain patients a healthy attitude towards their situation early on. Negative psychological reactions to pain have shown to worsen prognosis.
It is not standard protocol for physicians to prescribe physical therapy early on. Normally, back pain is awaited out for a few weeks, since it sometimes does go away on its own. However, results of studies like the one above may change that protocol. It is possible in most states to directly access physical therapists, meaning you do not need a referral from a physician to see them. Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma state laws have opponents against direct access, however. Medicaid and Medicare patients will not have direct access visits covered by their insurance, and some other insurance providers do not cover direct access either. Legislation is currently being cooked for that would open up direct access physical therapy to everyone everywhere.
The above study showed that people who looked physical therapy quickly spent on average $ 2,736 less in health care expenses than those who delayed treatment. If you have insurance coverage, then, seeking early care could save you a significant amount of money. For more on the study, refer to http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-05-early-physical-therapist-treatment-healthcare.html .
Seeking early back pain treatment from a physical therapist reduces your risk of prolonged pain and financial hardship. As with any problem, back pain is best deal with sooner rather than later.