Many people with pain or joint issues immediately turn to their primary care physician for guidance, only to be referred to physical therapy as the potential solution for their pain and discomfort. Often times it seeing a physical therapist first can lead to better outcomes and lower out of pocket cost. Moreover, if your physical therapist determines that therapy is not the best course of action, she/he will refer you to the appropriate doctor. Here are some reasons why the team at Southeastern Physical Therapy believes seeing a physical therapist early in the diagnosis stage can be beneficial:
Early Physical Therapy (PT) leads to better outcomes
Studies have shown that people who receive physical therapy sooner have better outcomes, lower costs, are less likely to have surgery, use opioids or have unnecessary testing. Because back pain is so common, there is a lot of outcome data from people with back pain. A study of 150,000 insurance claims published in Health Services Research, found that those who saw a physical therapist at the first point of care had an 89 percent lower probability of receiving an opioid prescription, a 28 percent lower probability of having advanced imaging services, and a 15 percent lower probability of an emergency department visit. Unfortunately, only 2% of people with back pain start with PT, and only 7% get to PT within 90 days.
Early PT saves money
The rising cost of healthcare is well known and early physical therapy is something that has been shown to reduce costs without reducing the effectiveness of treatment. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) showed that patients who obtained physical therapy via direct access had significantly lower medical costs—an average of $1,543 less per patient than those who chose referral from a physician. They also had significantly fewer visits and spent significantly fewer days in care.
Surgery may not be as effective as you think
Many patients look to surgery as the fix for their pain, but surgeries aren’t always as effective as patients believe. A large study looking at worker’s comp patients with back pain found that people who have surgery have a 1 in 4 chance of having a repeat surgery, a 1 in 3 chance of a major complication, and a 1 in 3 chance of never returning to work again. Recent large studies of arthroscopic surgeries for meniscal tears have shown no difference in outcomes between people who have surgery and those who don’t. Other procedures with questionable effectiveness include kyphoplasty, vertebroplasty, and injections for nonspecific back pain.
So, if you were planning on seeing your primary care physician (PCP) or a specialist for an orthopedic condition or pain and you haven’t seen a physical therapist yet, you should consider making PT your first stop. You could end up getting better faster for less money and you might avoid riskier treatments like opioids or surgery.
About Southeastern Physical Therapy
Founded in 1999, Southeastern Physical Therapy (SEPT) is locally owned by Darren Cady, a physical therapist. We are proud of our long-term commitment and service to Buncombe County, Henderson County and the surrounding areas.
Southeastern Physical Therapy leads the way in sports rehab and physical therapy – treating orthopedic, muscular, bone and joint injuries, ailments and pain. Whether it is a sprain or post- operative repair, we have the experience and expertise to do the best job and get the results you deserve.
Southeastern works with all provider networks and welcomes walk-ins. All insurances are accepted, including Medicare and Medicaid. And, with 8 outpatient locations and over 50 Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants, Southeastern will provide you the care and attention you need with the convenience of a clinic near you.
Learn more about Southeastern Physical Therapy at: www.southeastpt.com.