Like most physical therapy clinics, we here at Elite Sports Performance & Physical Therapy in Stoughton and Foxboro have seen first-hand the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis on patients suffering from musculoskeletal injuries or conditions. Because of the recent closures of physician’s offices, delays in elective surgeries, and social distancing guidelines resulting from COVID-19, many people with pain or joint issues have had appointments or surgeries delayed. If you’re one of them and you haven’t seen your physical therapist yet, you should consider it. Here are some reasons why:
Early 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 (Frogner, BK et al, 2018).
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 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 (Denniger et al, 2018).
Surgery may not be as effective as you think
Many patients look to surgery as the fix for their pain, but some 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 studies of arthroscopic surgeries for meniscus tears in the knee have shown no difference in outcomes between people who have surgery and those who don’t. (BMJ 2016;354:i3740, JAMA. 2018 Oct 2;320(13):1328-1337.doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.13308.)
So if you were planning on seeing your PCP or a specialist for an orthopedic condition but are having difficulty scheduling or would like to try physical therapy first, consider scheduling an appointment with one of our highly-trained Physical Therapists here at Elite. You could end up getting better faster for less money and you might avoid riskier treatments like opioids or surgery. With additional safety precautions and social distancing measures in place, the expert physical therapy team at Elite in Stoughton and Foxboro are ready to help. To learn more about Physical Therapy at Elite or to schedule an initial evaluation, visit: https://www.elitefitcenter.com/physical-therapy/
- Frogner, BK et al. Physical Therapy as the First Point of Care to Treat Low Back Pain: An Instrumental Variables Approach to Estimate Impact on Opioid Prescription, Health Care Utilization, and Costs. Health Services Research. First published: 23 May 2018. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6773.12984
- Denniger, TR et al. The Influence of Patient Choice of First Provider on Costs and Outcomes: Analysis From a Physical Therapy Patient Registry. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. 48:2. 2018:63-71