New Colorado Law Allows Pain Sufferers to Opt for Physical Therapy First, without a Referral – Part 2
In our previous post on PT First, we expounded on the fact that the State of Colorado has recently joined the “Direct Access” movement. Essentially, this is a law that states that consumers/patients within the state now have the right and the freedom to engage in physical therapy first, before turning to a licensed medical doctor.
We provided information on the law itself and explained that – despite debate – the “Direct Access” law does not pose harm to patients. This week, we will continue by sharing information that was concluded in a study conducted by the American Physical Therapy Association in the State of Colorado.
According to statistics, the one problem that results in most cases of body pain among patients occurs in the back. Most visits to the doctor are made because of a patient’s pain and discomfort in the back region of the body. The study previously mentioned by the APTA of Colorado has estimated that the costs – both direct and indirect – associated with back pain range from as little as $85 billion each year to as much as $238 billion.
Out of all pain-related and health-related problems that a patient may face, the costs associated with back pain is considered to be the highest of any other issue that detrimentally impacts today’s patients. Naturally, many who suffer from back pain will undergo spinal surgery. According to the study, the State of Colorado ranks among the highest in spinal surgery rates. “Direct Access” may result in the immediate lowering of this statistic.
Physical Therapy First Offers the Most Health Benefits
The data that was utilized for the study stemmed from an online database of health plans that are sponsored by employers. It included a total of 32,070 patients. This study indicated that those that opted for early intervention of physical therapy services and treatments experienced fewer cases of having medical imaging tests conducted, fewer visits to a medical doctor, less medicine prescribed, and far fewer cases of spinal surgery; however, this alternative treatment was actually underutilized.
Only 7% of all of the patients evaluated received care from a physical therapist within the first 90 days of their initial visit to a medical professional for back pain. Those that did receive early PT were found to spend nearly $2,800 less – on average – than patients that did not receive this early intervention.
Pain is a highly debilitating occurrence in the human body. Individuals that experience pain are more likely to have to undergo costly advanced imaging, a higher level of medical tests, and are more likely to be prescribed medications – such as injections and opioids.
All of this can be easily and quickly eliminated by patients simply taking advantage of the “Direct Access” law that has recently been put into place by the State of Colorado.
While back pain is the most common issue faced by patients, other types of body pain may be successfully treated by physical therapists.