Have you ever awoke with that terrible crick in your neck that grabs you if you make the slightest movement?...Sprained your ankle?...Pulled a muscle while trying to prove you can still beat you child in the 100 meter dash?...Or maybe your started having this nagging back pain and you can’t sit on the bleachers at the basketball game…Maybe you had to stop training for a big race or athletic event because of a pain you just can’t figure out…Or maybe you developed this shoulder pain and you can’t even get your shirt on in the mornings.
You’re not alone. Musculoskeletal injuries and conditions are quite common. They can significantly impact your life and your ability to do the things you love. What can you do about it? Seek care from a musculoskeletal expert, like a physical therapist, early.
Physical Therapists Are Musculoskeletal Experts
Physical therapists are very knowledgeable in the musculoskeletal system and can be a valuable resource in getting you back to your life. In fact, a study by Childs et. al. (1), found that physical therapists demonstrated higher levels of knowledge in managing musculoskeletal conditions than medical students, physician interns and residents, and most physician specialists except for orthopaedists.” In addition, the researchers found “that performance among licensed physical therapists who were board-certified was significantly better when compared to their non board-certified colleagues.”
Early care by a physical therapist has been found to be beneficial in many ways. Much of the research in early access to physical therapy has focused on low back pain because it is so common and such a burden on our society. There are some additional studies addressing other musculoskeletal and joint pain. I’ve included some of the benefits below along with the research to back it up at the end of the article.
Benefits of Early Physical Therapy Versus Waiting:
-Lowers risk of advanced imaging, lumbar spinal injections, lumbar spine surgery (2, 3, 4)
-Decreased use of opiods (2, 3, 5)
-Decreased number of required physician visits (3, 4)
-Improved function (6)
-Decreased pain (6)
-Reduced medication use (6)
-Reduction in long term opiod use (5)
-Lower healthcare costs-decrease in cost for you the patient (2, 3)
How do you get early access to physical therapy?
One way is to schedule with your physician as soon as possible and request physical therapy. But we all know that it can be difficult to quickly get an appointment with a physician that fits into your schedule.
The best and quickest way to gain access to physical therapy is to find a physical therapist that provides direct-access services. What is direct-access physical therapy? It is physical therapy without a physician’s referral or prescription. Many are unaware that in Ohio you can see a physical therapist without a physician’s order. Direct-access quick access to physical therapy and early access to physical therapy has significant benefits as noted above. Studies have found significant benefits to direct-access physical therapy.
Benefits of Direct-Access Physical Therapy:
-Greater functional outcomes (7)
-Increased savings in physical therapy and total healthcare costs(7, 9)
- Substantially decreased early and long-term use of opioids (8)
-Fewer required physical therapy sessions(9)
-Significant decrease in cost for patients (7, 9)
There are clear benefits to early and direct-access physical therapy. Think of the disadvantages of not seeking early and direct access physical therapy: increased risk of use of medications including opiods with increased risk of long-term opiod use; increased risk of advanced imaging, injections, surgery; more physician visits, poorer functional outcomes, and less pain reduction; higher healthcare costs - more money out of your pocket.
Craig Campbell, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist
Certified Spinal Manual Therapist
Certified in Dry Needling
Which path will you take?
Campbell Physical Therapy and Wellness provides:
-Early access to physical therapy
-Direct access to physical therapy
-Care by a Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties)-Dr. Campbell is one of the less than 9% of physical therapists in the country that currently have this designation.
What are you waiting for? Get back to life!
Call us today at (614)285-6274 for an appointment.
(1)Childs, J.D., Whitman, J.M., Sizer, P.S. et al. A description of physical therapists' knowledge in managing musculoskeletal conditions. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 6, 32 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2474-6-32
(2)Childs, J.D., Fritz, J.M., Wu, S.S. et al. Implications of early and guideline adherent physical therapy for low back pain on utilization and costs. BMC Health Serv Res 15, 150 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-015-0830-3
(3)Fritz, Julie M. PT, PhD, ATC*; Childs, John D. PT, PhD†; Wainner, Robert S. PT, PhD‡; Flynn, Timothy W. PT, PhD§. Primary Care Referral of Patients With Low Back Pain to Physical Therapy: Impact on Future Health Care Utilization and Costs. Spine 37(25):p 2114-2121, December 01, 2012. | DOI: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e31825d32f5
(4)Gellhorn AC, Chan L, Martin B, Friedly J. Management patterns in acute low back pain: the role of physical therapy. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2012 Apr 20;37(9):775-82. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181d79a09. PMID: 21099735; PMCID: PMC3062937.
(5)Sun E, Moshfegh J, Rishel CA, Cook CE, Goode AP, George SZ. Association of Early Physical Therapy With Long-term Opioid Use Among Opioid-Naive Patients With Musculoskeletal Pain. JAMA Netw Open.2018;1(8):e185909. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.5909
(6)Martin S, Tallian K, Nguyen VT, van Dyke J, Sikand H. Does early physical therapy intervention reduce opioid burden and improve functionality in the management of chronic lower back pain? Ment Health Clin. 2020 Jul 2;10(4):215-221. doi: 10.9740/mhc.2020.07.215. PMID: 32685332; PMCID: PMC7337997.
(7)Sandra Hon, MS, PT, DPT, Richard Ritter, PT, MA, DPT, Diane D Allen, PT, PhD, Cost-Effectiveness and Outcomes of Direct Access to Physical Therapy for Musculoskeletal Disorders Compared to Physician-First Access in the United States: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Physical Therapy, Volume 101, Issue 1, January 2021, pzaa201, https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/pzaa201
(8)Kazis LE, Ameli O, Rothendler J, et al
Observational retrospective study of the association of initial healthcare provider for new-onset low back pain with early and long-term opioid use
BMJ Open 2019;9:e028633. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-028633
(9)Bryant Clark, Lindsay Clark, Chris Showalter & Travis Stoner (2022) A call to action: direct access to physical therapy is highly successful in the US military. When will professional bodies, legislatures, and payors provide the same advantages to all US civilian physical therapists?, Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, 30:4, 199-206, DOI: 10.1080/10669817.2022.2099893