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The Timing of Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain: Does It Matter in Workers’ Compensation?

Home News & Videos Back Conditions The Timing of Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain: Does It Matter in Workers’ Compensation?

A lower back injury is an extremely common injury among workers. An injury or pain can develop from heavy lifting or from office workers who may not have ergonomic resources. After suffering from a work injury, especially lower back pain, beginning physical therapy should be a main priority.

According to a report released by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, receiving physical therapy for lower back pain within 14 days of injury is associated with significant reductions in the use and costs of medical services such as MRIs, opioid prescriptions, pain management injections, and low back surgery.

The study broke down the timing of initial physical therapy into five groups and excluded workers with only one or two visits. The WCRI broke the data out based on date of injury, within 3 days, 4-7 days, 8-14 days, 15-30 days, and after 30 days. “Workers with late PT, after 30 days, were more likely to receive medical services, specifically, they were 46 percent more likely to receive opioid prescriptions, 47 percent more likely to receive MRI, 29 percent more likely to receive pain management injections,” said Dongchun Wang, Economist at WCRI.

Some of The Report’s Key Findings:

  • The biggest impact was observed when physical therapy was started four to seven days after injury.
  • Compared with patients who received physical therapy within three days of injury, those who initiated physical therapy more than 30 days after injury were:
    • 47% more likely to have an MRI
    • 46% more likely to be prescribed opioids
    • 29% more likely to receive injections for pain management
    • 89% more likely to have back surgery
  • Workers in the late PT group after 30 days were 89% more likely to have low back surgery than those who received PT within the first 14 days after injury.

You can read the full report here.

JAG Physical Therapy is proud to offer Worker’s Compensation programs at our over 100 NY, NJ & PA locations. We offer FEC, Functional Capacity Evaluation Tests, as well as Post Offer Employment testing. To make an appointment or for more information, contact us today.

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