Physical therapy better for low back pain: study. Photo: UConn Today
ISLAMABAD: A new study has shown that patients who first saw a physical therapist for low back pain were less likely to be prescribed opioids as opposed to those who consulted a primary care physician (PCP).
The study’s lead author, Boston University Professor Lewis Kazis, said: “To reduce the risks of short and long-term opioid use, insurers should incentivise patients to see physical therapists or chiropractors first following a bout of low back pain, before seeing a PCP.”
For the research, the team looked at commercial insurance and medicare advantage claims data from the Optum Labs database for 216,504 adults who were diagnosed with new-onset low back pain between 2008 and 2013 and had not been prescribed opioids before.
For the analysis, the researchers controlled as many socio-demographic, geographical, and medical history factors as they could get from the insurance claims data.
Published in BMJ Open, the study indicated that the patients who first saw a PCP for low back pain were 79 per cent more likely to use prescription opioids than the patients who first visited a chiropractor and 71 percent more likely than those who first went to a physical therapist.
The researchers also found that the patients in states with provisional or unrestricted access to physical therapy were much more likely to see a physical therapist first than patients in states with limited physical therapy access.