Seeing a Physical Therapist First: How This Simple Step Will Save You Money
Over the past two decades, the physical therapy profession has completely evolved. In the past, physical therapists have been seen and utilized as rehabilitation experts. Today, BreakThrough’s expert physical therapists are able to treat a variety of conditions that patients, and even healthcare practitioners, might be unaware of, including:
- Meniscal tears
- Bulging disks
- Pinched nerves (or as we call them, nerve entrapments)
- Stiff joints
- Frozen shoulders
- Ligamentous tears
- Cartilage damage
- Chronic migraines
- Chronic pain
- Women’s/men’s health conditions (bowel and bladder control)
- Self-care management strategies
- Return to exercise/sport strategies
As clinical doctors, [well-trained] physical therapists can also effectively diagnose your problem. Studies have shown that physical therapy specialists can correctly diagnose conditions up to 75% of the time when compared to MRI results; not a statistically significant difference from Orthopaedic physicians who were shown to diagnose with 80% accuracy, and both compare well above other healthcare providers, who are only 30% accurate (J. Orthop. Sports Physical Therapy 2005). So, if that nagging pain is preventing you from your favorite activity or keeping you out of work, it might be less expensive and more effective to search for a physical therapist. (Side note: in the great state of North Carolina, private insurance doesn’t require a prescription. You can seek help from your PT immediately!)
As therapists, we help you help your body heal and decrease your pain, stiffness, and weakness caused by these problems. In doing so, the body can heal properly, allowing you to return to normal activities. It should also be noted that a major component of our job is to help you overcome difficulty or pain in performing daily tasks, like difficulty bending over with a stiff back or reaching overhead with an achy shoulder. The body is still able to perform these tasks, we just show you how.
The best part? Our side effects. Physical therapy has very few adverse side effects – no drowsiness, no addiction. Warning: you may become addicted to feeling better and stronger, having better movement and increased independence, and not to mention the other health benefits that come with properly performing exercises. It’s not uncommon for patients who are committed to their therapy regime to lose weight and improve their mood and overall wellbeing.
By choosing physical therapy, you’ll spend less in health care costs. According to the Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, a patient with back pain, seen by a physical therapist early on could save $1,100 to $3,000 (Health Services Research 2015). For one episode of back pain, when physical therapy was prescribed early on, there was an 89% less chance of having opioid prescribed, 30% less probability of having imaging, and 15% less probability of an emergency room visit.
As the healthcare model continues to shift and costs continue to soar, it should be encourging to know that your physical therapist is equipped to treat a number of issues really well. And at BreakThrough, if throughout our evaluation process, we find that we can’t treat you, we won’t… we’ll refer you to the right healthcare professional who can. We’re your neighbors, friends, and family, and as much as we enjoy seeing you, we want you to get better, faster, so you can get back to the things you love.
Lucas Simoes, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, is the clinic manager at BreakThrough’s Cameron location outside of Fayetteville, North Carolina. He is a board certified Orthopaedic Certified Specialist and is one of the few physical therapists in the country who has completed a fellowship in physical therapy.