A recent study shows that the first provider you visit for acute lower back pain influences utilization and cost.

A recent study shows that the first provider you visit for acute lower back pain influences utilization and cost.

Keeping things simple by choosing the right provider first has a marked influence on your experiences, the treatment effectiveness, and the cost of care.

With regard to acute lower back pain, a new study in the Journal of Physical Therapy was published in June 2023 with a number of PhD researchers as well as a colleague of mine, Mike Schneider DC, Ph.D.

The study recognized that the cost of treating low back pain episodes continues to rise and it has been suspected that providers such as physical therapists and chiropractors if seen first cost the least while seeing a Dr. in the ER was most costly.

It has been reported that approaches such as chiropractic reduce tests, drugs, and ultimately treatment decisions that can complicate lower back pain.

Part of the problem in this my opinion is that often, acute lower back pain is treated as a one-size-fits-all approach.   There is much less room for overcomplexity in both the physical therapy and chiropractic care models which results in simpler but effective treatment models that reduce chronicity while speeding recovery.

As written in the study, ” Chiropractic care and physical therapy provide nonpharmacologic and nonsurgical, guideline-based interventions. The use of physical therapists and chiropractors as entry points into the health system appears related to a decrease in immediate and long-term use of health resources. ”

Optum Health a few years ago also had data supporting that both chiropractors and physical therapists markedly reduced their costs of treating back problems.

Why consider chiropractic care for lower back pain over physical therapy?

Chiropractors often have an edge as their approach is more holistic, meaning they will dig deeper into the patient’s history and do a more thorough physical look at everything.  Acute lower back pain can be an upper back problem, a core issue, a lower back problem, a foot problem, and often a problem with movement.  Looking at the lower back alone often fails to find the cause, and may only address the symptoms.  Perhaps, this is why, more people, even in the absence of adequate chiropractic coverage are visiting their local chiropractors and many are thrilled with the results.

Care for the acute lower back is often successful when the approach is simple and thorough.  This is why a holistic approach should be used to fully understand why the person has acute back pain.  While we are all humans, we are not all the same genetically, with different ancestry, sex, height, body style, and gait style.   Perhaps this is why one-size-fits-all approaches to the lower back often fail to work.

Today chiropractors will employ, joint manipulation, exercises, foot orthotics if necessary, and soft tissue treatment techniques to improve the way you move.   Ultimately, acute lower back pain is a movement problem. Chiropractors are body mechanics.

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