Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain Can Save You Money
A new study of people with low back pain found that physical therapy was cheaper short-term than alternatives such as injections or surgery would be long-term. It also found that the earlier an individual started treatment after a diagnosis of low back pain, the less money was spent over a 12-month period.
“We felt it was important to look at claims data to demonstrate how a physical therapy-first approach can improve outcomes and reduce overall medical expenditures,” stated APTQI Executive Director Troy Bage, PT, DPT. “We’ve known this to be true from our experiences as physical therapists, but we wanted to investigate the hard data that bear this out.”
President of Midwest Operations for Ivy Rehab commented that “This report indicates what physical therapists have felt for a long time. Early access to physical therapy for patients with low back pain is clearly a cost-effective solution. As we continue to analyze our healthcare spend, physical therapy intervention is a great value and provides exceptional outcomes.”
Physical Therapy Cost Savings
According to the American Physical Therapy Association’s analysis of this study, people who “received physical therapy within the first 15 days of diagnosis incurred lower average treatment costs than those whose physical therapy began later, and those savings continued through the 12-month study period.”
In addition to physical therapy being the cheaper option, the results indicate that fewer people who received physical therapy as an initial line of treatment for low back pain subsequently went on to have surgery. Most states have direct access for physical therapy, meaning you can visit a physical therapist without a prescription from your doctor because of the clinical and financial benefits that this study highlights.
“Even as a physical therapist who’s treated many people with low back pain and has witnessed the clinical power of physical therapy, the financial findings of this study are astounding,” said Matt Lesniak, Director of Clinical Programs and Outcomes at Ivy Rehab. “Considering that millions of Americans experience low back pain every year, and the annual healthcare spend on low back pain is in the billions of dollars, a physical therapy-first approach for these patients has profound fiscal implications both for the federal government and for individuals.”
If you’re experiencing low back pain, visit a physical therapist first.
Click here to request an appointment at any of our clinics across the east coast or midwest. Remember that you do not need a prescription. In most states, you can begin treatment without a prescription. For states with limited direct access laws, you can still come in for a free consultation with one of our physical therapists without a prescription.
Article by Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA
Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA is a practicing physical therapist and a partner and Director of Clinical Services at Ivy Rehab Network. Deur is board certified as a geriatric clinical specialist and certified exercise expert for aging adults with more than 35 years of clinical experience. She is certified as an aquatic and oncology rehabilitation specialist and serves as adjunct faculty at Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University.
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