Back and neck pain makes up the biggest healthcare expense in the US, totaling $134 billion spent in 2016.
The next two most expensive conditions were diabetes — $111 billion in spending — and ischemic heart disease at $89 billion.
Diabetes and heart disease being so expensive to treat doesn’t surprise most folks – they can both lead to other major problems, require long term medication, could require surgery, and both can be fatal.
Back pain won’t kill you, usually doesn’t require long term medication, and usually doesn’t require surgery either.
Then why is it costing this much to our healthcare system?
Why is it so expensive?
The first reason is that it’s so common.
The second reason is that our current system isn’t very good at treating it.
Current recommendations include starting with activity modification, and active treatments like physical therapy. Research backs this up, showing better outcomes and lower costs with early PT.
Unfortunately, only 2% of people with back pain start with PT, and only 7% get to PT within 90 days.
At the same time, a study looking at about 2.5 million people with back pain in JAMA showed that 32.3% of these patients received imaging within 30 days of diagnosis and 35.3% received imaging without a trial of physical therapy.
Both of these things go against current practice guidelines for treatment of back pain.
Current trends that we have noticed includes medications, followed by injections to treat back pain by the PCP and if that does not solve the problem may be patient will be referred to PT.
A Major Reset is Needed to Change The Healthcare Mindset.
A major reset is required to change the healthcare practice and to treat back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions in general.
It is important that not only patients byut
A new pilot program being rolled out by TRICARE, the insurance system used throughout the US military is waiving the payment owed by the patient for up to three PT sessions in an attempt to improve the use of what the Defense Health Agency calls “high value” treatment for low back pain.
The theory is that once a person sees some benefit from PT treatment, they’re likely to go back for more.
This is the “try it before you buy it” approach – think of the 7-day free trial Netflix offers, free samples poured in wineries and craft breweries, or the folks you see standing around in supermarkets with food on toothpicks. TRICARE’s data seems to indicate that it works just as well for healthcare as it does for other businesses.
In a press release they state that once people attend one session of physical therapy, they’re likely to go back for more, no matter what their co-pay is.
But TRICARE found that higher co-pays could be a barrier to people trying that first visit. For the group of patients with the highest co-pays in the system, only 38% of the people prescribed PT attended the first visit. That’s about half the rate of attendance found in the lowest co-pay group.
The fact that such a major insurer is looking into the value of PT is great news for everyone.
If TRICARE can show that lowering the cost of PT for patients can improve outcomes and save insurance companies money, other major insurers will likely follow.
This could improve the lives of millions of people every year while reducing the huge cost of treating low back pain for the country.
That seems like a win for everyone involved.
Share your thoughts here by commenting. We will love to hear your thoughts.
Are you suffering from lower back pain?
If you are suffering from back pain and trying to find your option.
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While the coronavirus pandemic continues to be front and center in the news and in the thoughts of many people, other health issues have not gone away. People are still getting back and neck pain, overuse injuries and hurt while at work. Many of these people would benefit from seeing a physical therapist, but some of them are reluctant because of concerns over COVID-19. That’s understandable, PT clinics are busy places, with lots of people coming and going, right? They used to be, but things are different now. Just like every other business and public place, PT clinics have made changes to allow them to continue to serve patients while keeping both patients and staff safe. Here are some common changes clinics have made to reduce the risk of COVID spreading among patients and staff.
How would you like to schedule your next PT appointment?
Physical therapists are medical professionals who were trained to deal with infectious diseases and keep people safe long before COVID-19 existed. By making changes throughout their workflows and patient experiences, physical therapy practices have reduced the risk of spreading COVID among their staff and patient populations, while continuing to deliver needed services to the public. If you are in need of PT treatment, but are hesitant to go into the clinic, give your PT a call and talk about what policies and procedures they have in place. To reduce or eliminate going into the clinic, ask about using telehealth either exclusively or in combination with in-person treatment. This is a time of uncertainty, but people are reacting with flexibility and creativity. Don’t let concerns over COVID keep you in pain or from the treatment you need.
At Active Kare Physical Therapy we take all the safety precautions to keep our staff and our patients safe and provide our patients excellent treatment.
How would you like to schedule your next PT appointment?
The weather is hot, the gym is closed, and you’ve been relaxing – enjoying the lazy, hazy days of summer. Taking a day off here and there is no problem, but if you’ve been consistently missing your regular run, bike ride, or gym session and notice some aches and pains showing up, you might have the beginnings of deconditioning.
Exercise creates many changes in your body – your heart begins to pump blood more efficiently, your muscles use oxygen more efficiently, they contract in a more coordinated manner, and your body gets more efficient turning food into fuel to name just a few. Deconditioning is the reversing of these changes. Exercise is a “use it or lose it” kind of thing, and deconditioning is the process by which we “lose it.”
How long does it take to decondition?
As with most things related to a system as complex as the human body, it depends. According to the ACSM, two weeks without exercise can lead to significant loss of cardiovascular fitness. Two to eight months of detraining can erase virtually all of your gains. As you detrain, cardiovascular fitness tends to decline first, with muscle strength declining later.
Other factors are your age, and your exercise history. If you’re younger, you’ll probably lose fitness at a slower rate than someone older. If you’ve been consistently exercising for a long time, or at a high intensity, your losses will probably be slower than for someone who just started.
Reversing the losses
If you’re just undergoing a period of increased time commitments at work or with family, using a shortened exercise routine can help minimize your losses. Even one session a week will help you keep most of what you’ve gained. Other options are to use shorter but more intense interval training sessions, or breaking up your activity into multiple short chunks during the day. If your layoff was longer, it may take just as long to retrain as it did to make the gains initially. If you’re having those aches and pains due to inactivity or need help designing a safe program to either maintain your fitness or gain it back after a layoff, your physical therapist can help. Injury and illness are other common reasons for detraining. Your PT can not only help you recover faster, but they can also find activities to maintain your fitness while safely working around an injury or illness.
Did you have a lazy summer? Do have aches and pain from from not being very active this this summer?
Have been working from home and now you are suffering from aches and pain? Don’t avoid your pain. Get help you need so that you can stay productive at your work.
Get More Active & Avoid Injuries. Talk to Your PTs How
As the year comes to an end, people begin to set goals and make resolutions. Losing weight & getting into “better shape” are all common. These all require increasing your amount of physical activity. More activity is great for your health, energy levels, sleep, and mood. However, ramping up your activity level too quickly after a holiday season of eating, drinking and being merry can lead to pain, injury and disappointment if your body isn’t ready for it.
Your physical therapist is an expert in human movement, and can help you safely reach your fitness goals. People think of PTs as the person to see after an injury, but a visit before you change your activity level could prevent injury in the first place. An evaluation by your PT will include assessment of your strength, range of motion, and functional movement patterns – think jumping, running, squatting, carrying. Some PTs even like to use a standardized assessment, such as the Functional Movement Screen .
Most common injuries from new fitness routines are caused by underlying weakness, range of motion deficits, or compensatory movement patterns. Your PT will find these during your assessment. They can then prescribe exercises or movements to address the issues found and get you safely moving into the new year!
The other common way people get injured working towards their resolution is with overtraining, or doing too much too soon. Physical therapists are also experts in exercise prescription and program design. Your PT can help you create a routine specific to your needs and goals that will progress appropriately and keep you out of trouble.
So stop only thinking of your PT after you’re injured. In this case, it’s true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Seeing your physical therapist before you start on your resolution can keep you on track, injury free, and help you reach your goals for the new year!
So, get in touch with your physical therapist today and start discussing about your fitness goals and how injuries can be prevented.
We are located in Sterling Heights and we would love to be a part of your fitness journey this coming new year. Call us at 248-432-1618 and schedule your discovery visit and ask for a Functional Movement Screen .