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Study suggests Physical Therapy is best for low back pain.

By Todd Ward – Administrator, Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine

It has been estimated that about 80% of adult Americans will experience low back pain at some point. About 40% will have symptoms severe enough to cause a loss of sleep, decreased ability to do their daily activities and ability to exercise. Nearly 75% of adults with low back pain will use some form of pain medication to combat their low back pain. Opioids (narcotic pain medication) abuse is seen as one of the biggest healthcare problems in the US. Opioids are addictive and mask symptoms but do not alleviate the cause of the pain. That is where physical therapy comes in.

A large study published early this month in the journal Health Services Research examined 150,000 cases of low back pain across six states. Patients with low back pain that went to physical therapy first required 28% less imaging (x-rays, MRI’s etc), had fewer ER visits and had on average $500 less out of pocket costs. Most remarkably is that patients that went to PT first had an 89% lower chance of requiring an opioid prescription.

If you are now or in the future affected by back pain, think about seeing a physical therapist first. Early physical intervention has been shown time and time again to improve outcomes. The state of Colorado allows direct access to Physical Therapy meaning in many cases you do not need a prescription to see a PT*.

For more information how Physical Therapy can help you, contact Gunnison Valley Health’s Rehab and Athletic Medicine at 641-7248 with questions or to schedule an appointment for the best therapy in the Valley.

*Government payers (Medicare and Medicaid) and Worker’s Compensation do require a physician’s prescription