Did you know that 52% of all opioid prescriptions are for patients with low back pain, and over 2 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorder? 47,000 people died from opioid use disorder in 2017. Researchers from the Boston university school of public health wanted to find better options for the management of low back pain because of the statistics. They found that a patient’s initial choice of healthcare provider plays an important role in their prospects for a successful outcome from the perspective of the patient and the insurance company.
Let’s look at other choices for low back pain.
Due to these findings a major health insurance carrier sent a notice to their policyholders which promoted initial care for low back pain with either a chiropractor or a physical therapist. This means that spinal imaging tests will be reduced by 21%, spinal surgeries by 21%, an opioid prescriptions by 19%, which will lead to lower cost for employers and plan participants.
The American College of physicians are also in support of this new treatment choice for low back pain. Non-drug and nonsurgical care should be the initial course of treatment for a low back pain patient.
Let’s look at some studies on the effectiveness of nonsurgical, non-drug approaches for managing low back pain.
In a 2020 study compared 22% of patients who first visited their primary care doctor and received a short term opioid prescription, and those who first consulted with a physical therapist or chiropractor. The patients who consulted with a PT or DC first were 85 to 90% less likely to require an opioid prescription.
In 2015 a study was done that sound that patients who first visited a DC were more satisfied with their care than those who visited a PCP. Plus, the treatment costs were lower.
In 2013, researchers looked at data from Washington state workers compensation cases and found that 43% of workers with a back injury who consulted with a surgeon ended up having surgery, while 1.5% of those who first receive treatment from a DC eventually had a surgical procedure for their back pain.
In 2019, I study was done that found that low back pain patients were less likely to see DC and PTs versus PCPs if their insurance plan had greater restrictions on DC and PT visits.
If health insurance benefit designs were changed to encourage low back pain patients to see DC and PT‘s there would be long-term economic and social benefits.
After looking at all of this research, it is clear that conservative treatment approaches such as chiropractic care should be the choice for low back pain. There will be a cost savings for patients and ensures plus a reduced risk of issues from opioids.
Come see us today as your choice for low back pain treatment.