Low Back Pain: Few Benefits of Early Physical Therapy

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early PT is not associated with any statistically significant difference in subsequent back pain-specific health care utilization.
early PT is not associated with any statistically significant difference in subsequent back pain-specific health care utilization.

HealthDay News -- Early use of physical therapy (PT) for new low back pain in older adults is not associated with less subsequent back pain-specific health care utilization, compared with patients not receiving early PT, according to a study published in the Spine Journal.1

Deven A. Karvelas, MD, from Rebound Orthopedics and Neurosurgery in Vancouver, Washington, and colleagues looked at the association between initiating early PT (within 28 days of the index visit for low back pain) and subsequent back pain-specific health care utilization in older adults. Data from the Back Pain Outcomes using Longitudinal Data registry were evaluated for 4,723 adults, aged 65 and older, presenting to a primary care setting with a new episode of low back pain.

The researchers found no statistically significant difference in total spine relative value units (RVUs) between the 2 groups (ratio of means, 1.19; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.72 to 1.96; P =.49). For secondary outcomes related to use of all health care services, only the difference between total spine imaging RVUs and total PT RVUs was statistically significant, with the early-PT group having greater PT RVUs (ratio of means, 2.56; 95% CI, 2.17 to 3.03; P <.001) and greater imaging RVUs (ratio of means, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.09 to 1.71; P =.01).

"In a group of older adults presenting for a new episode of low back pain, the use of early PT is not associated with any statistically significant difference in subsequent back pain-specific health care utilization compared with patients not receiving early PT," the authors write.

 

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Reference

  1. Karvelas DA, Rundell SD, Friedly JL, et al. Subsequent health-care utilization associated with early physical therapy for new episodes of low back pain in older adults. Spine J. 2017;17(3):380-389.
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