PHYSICAL THERAPY INSTEAD OF OPIOIDS FOR LOW BACK PAIN

           

Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010, and is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, low back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor's office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic (meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer). Experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives and that Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain. About 40% of low back pain sufferers initially consult their primary care physician for help. Historically, the most straightforward way to treat back issues is through medication to control the pain, in the form of both over-the-counter and prescription drugs and opioids. However, there are alternatives to the use of medications and opioids, such as physical therapy.

 

A recent study shows that costs for patients with low back pain can vary depending on the treatment and severity. This study, published in the Journal of Health Services Research, proved that initial treatment costs were 50% lower when patients were referred to physical therapy, rather than an advanced imaging referral at their primary care consultation. Over time, using physical therapy as a first treatment strategy resulted in 72% fewer costs within the first year of the patient seeking care. In addition, patients who receive a referral to physical therapy were 35% less likely to receive an opioid prescription.

 

Physical Therapy works in conjunction with your primary care provider to educate and empower patients to take control of their low back pain in order to have a better quality of life and improved function. Progressive Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Center employs several techniques to help manage low back pain, such as: patient education, manual therapy techniques, therapeutic exercises and aquatics. At Progressive Physical Therapy each patient receives a thorough evaluation and education regarding their condition, as well as individual goals and a plan of care to return to improved function. Patient education is the “key” that patients need to learn how to manage low back pain. We also employ the use of hands on myofascial release techniques, joint mobilizations and instrument assisted soft tissue techniques to restore mobility.  Additionally, each patient is instructed in therapeutic exercises specific to their condition in order to promote strength, flexibility, function and stabilization. Patients are also given a written home exercise program and the tools needed to maintain function and manage pain. Progressive Physical Therapy typically employs the therapeutic benefits of water, including buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure to facilitate range of motion and decreased pain/swelling. Our pool temperature is a therapeutic 92⁰F which facilitates muscle relaxation and decreased spasm.

 

Please feel free to discuss with your doctor the benefits of physical therapy as an alternative, or in conjunction with your pain medications for management of low back pain.

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