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Physical therapists offer low-cost solution to high-cost expenditures for acute low back pain
Date:8/12/2008

ALEXANDRIA, VA, August 12, 2008 The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) concurs with findings from a recent study published in Spine (Volume 33, Number 16) demonstrating that active physical therapy for patients with acute low back pain is associated with better clinical outcomes, decreased use of prescription medications, MRI and epidural injections, and lower healthcare costs than passive physical therapy.

For pain of a 'mechanical' origin such as low back pain, hands-on therapy to mobilize the spine and exercises designed to alleviate low back pain have been shown to be particularly effective and have long-lasting effects on patients. According to the study's lead researcher and APTA member Julie Fritz, PT, PhD, ATC, Clinical Outcomes Research Scientist at Salt Lake City's Intermountain Healthcare and associate professor at the University of Utah, "Physical therapists are often one of the first health care providers that patients with acute low back pain encounter - whether they are referred by medical doctors or visit them directly - which offers evidenced-based PTs a tremendous opportunity to help patients recover."

Physical therapist management is a low-cost, high-value alternative to medication and surgery to deal with certain musculoskeletal pain. According to Fritz, "Considering that low back pain will affect between sixty and eighty percent of Americans during their lifetime, the potential cost savings of an early, effective intervention to prevent individuals from progressing to chronic disability may be considerable."

The study consisted of a retrospective review of 471 patients, ages 18-60. One hundred thirty-two patients (28 percent) received active physical therapy (involving a high percentage of active exercise) and 339 (72 percent) received non-adherent care (defined as involving greater than 25% passive treatments such as hot/cold treatment, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation).

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Contact: Stephanie Block
stephanieblock@apta.org
703-706-3397
American Physical Therapy Association
Source:Eurekalert

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