Today’s post is going to be quick as I am off to talk to the Fairfield American Little League Program’s coaches about injury reduction and red flags with their athletes.
One of the main points I try to make at these talks is to refer out ASAP if there is pain. Orthopedic doctors are great, but in most cases it’s more advantageous to see a qualified Physical Therapist or Chiropractor first.
Much of the research references acute lower back pain. Within the studies they show the typical cycle of back pain, waiting a few days, calling the orthopedists, waiting a few days to get an appointment, going to the appointment, getting an MRI and/or x-ray, then being referred to PT. In most states, Direct Access is available to walk directly into a Physical Therapy office and get treated. Some argue there is a fear factor, as PTs don’t do X-rays or MRIs, which I completely understand. In rebuttal to those claims, a good PT or Chiro will evaluate pain and immediately refer out if they believe you need a second opinion or diagnostic imaging.
“A 4 year study of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland claims data and found that total paid claims for physician referral episodes to physical therapists were 2.2 times higher than the paid claims for direct access episodes. In addition, physician referral episodes were 65% longer in duration than direct access episodes and generated 67% more physical therapy claims and 60% more office visits. The HSR study looked at a far more extensive number of episodes than the previous study, and also controlled for illness severity and other factors that could have affected the patients’ outcomes.”1,2
60% more visits and cost is a large time frame and price to pay just for going to the Orthopedists!
The take home point of this info is not that going to the doctor is a bad thing, but waiting around for your pain- regardless if its back, elbow, neck, knee, hip, whatever- to subside magically instead of getting treatment will cost you in the long run; both in time and money. Have a trusted team of professionals to turn to immediately when you are in pain, and if you need the opinion of your doctor those professionals will gladly send you their way, but wasting time to get into the doctor or for the pain to go away is just that, a waste.
Trusted Side Kick #1
Trusted Side Kick #2
Good luck to everyone in their seasons!
1. Pendergast J, Kliethermes SA, Freburger JK, Duffy PA. A Comparison of Health Care Use for Physician-Referred and Self-Referred Episodes of Outpatient Physical Therapy. Health Serv Res. 2012;47(2):633–654. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2011.01324.x.
2. Mitchell JM, de Lissovoy G. A Comparison of Resource Use and Cost in Direct Access Versus Physician Referral Episodes of Physical Therapy. Phys Ther. 1997;77(1):10–18.