Physical Therapy First Lowers Cost

     In honor of PT Day on Capital Hill, I wanted to briefly share the results of two recent research studies. The first focuses on the cost in regards to new onset of low back pain and whether patients first utilized physical therapy or advanced imaging. The second looks at physical therapy vs. surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis.

     As evidenced by this research study, utilizing physical therapy first is the most efficient and effective way to manage a musculoskeletal condition. Unlike a physical therapist, medical doctors to do receive the extensive knowledge and training in how the human body moves. 

Diagram to help depict the path a patient can take. I do not have the research for the numbers provided here.

                            Click image to enlarge the abstract.

     As evidenced by this research study, a conservative management approach was just as successful as surgery. There is a time and place for surgical procedures; however, a vast majority can be prevented with physical therapy. 

                              Click image to enlarge the abstract.

     The bottom line is that physical therapists are the musculoskeletal experts and deal with conditions of movement, involving muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, etc. Physical therapy has shown to significantly decrease healthcare cost, which is a massive problem in our country. The profession should have direct access nationwide and the research evidence is vast to support this. For those of you who do not know, direct access is when a patient can see a physical therapist first without needing a doctor’s referral. Physical therapists are trained to recognize conditions outside their scope of practice and when to refer to a medical doctor.

     Check out this link to see where your state stands on direct access. Direct Access Summary by State.

      Regardless of your state’s direct access laws, remember that you have the right to choose your physical therapist.

 - Patrick Berner, SPT