Physical therapy better for low back pain: Study

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New York, Oct 1 (IANS) Patients who first saw a physical therapist for low back pain, rather than a primary care physician (PCP), were much less likely to be prescribed opioids, says a study.

“To reduce the risks of short- and long-term opioid use, insurers should incentivise patients to see physical therapists or chiropractors first following a bout of low back pain, before seeing a PCP,” said study lead author Lewis Kazis, Professor at Boston University in the USA.

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For the research, the team looked at commercial insurance and Medicare Advantage claims data from the OptumLabs database for 216,504 adults who were diagnosed with new-onset low back pain between 2008 and 2013 and had not been prescribed opioids before.

For the analysis, the researchers controlled as many socio-demographic, geographical, and medical history factors as they could get from the insurance claims data.

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According to the study, published in BMJ Open, patients who first saw a PCP for low back pain were 79 per cent more likely to use prescription opioids than patients who first visited a chiropractor and 71 per cent more likely than those who first went to a physical therapist.

The researchers also found patients in states with provisional or unrestricted access to physical therapy were much more likely to see a physical therapist first than patients in states with limited physical therapy access.

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–IANS

bu/pcj

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