Order of operations: low back pain patients who first see physical therapist have lower costs, less opioid use

Written by Shayna Korol | May 24, 2018 | Print  |

When low back pain patients see a physical therapist as their first point of care, they use fewer high-cost medical services and have lower opioid use, a study in Health Services Research found.

Patients who first saw a physical therapist were less likely to be prescribed opioids, receive advanced imaging services and visit an ED. They were 19.3 percent more likely to be hospitalized than patients who never saw a physical therapist or who saw one later.

The LBP patients who saw a physical therapist as their first point of care had lower out-of-pocket costs, which shifted away from outpatient and pharmacy toward provider settings.

Here is the study.

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