Patients newly diagnosed with back pain who received physical therapy as their first intervention had lower total Medicare costs and improved function, compared to patients who received injections or surgeries first, according to a recent study.
The study, from the Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation (APTQI) and conducted by health care research firm The Moran Company, examined different initial interventions and their associated costs for low back pain, within the Medicare program.
On average, the Medicare costs for back pain patients who received physical therapy as their first intervention were 19% less those who initially received injections, and approximately 75% less than those who received surgery first. In addition, patients who opted for physical therapy within 15 days of being diagnosed of back pain saw 27% lower average costs due to fewer required follow-on health care services such as injections and surgeries, according to the study.
The findings further revealed that in the year following the diagnosis, the difference in average spending showed physical therapy first patients saved 18% more than those who received injections, and 54% more compared to patients who underwent surgeries, per a media release from Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation.
“More than 80 percent of the US adult population experiences low back pain,” says Troy Bage, Executive Director of APTQI, in the release. “This research speaks loudly to the potentially significant cost savings and improved functional outcomes that early physical therapy can provide if implemented with the first 45 days after diagnosis.”
[Source(s): Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation, PR Newswire]