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Statistic Spotlight: Study Finds Immediate Physical Therapy Treatment for Acute LBP May Lead to Lower Costs

A recent assessment evaluated the impact of receiving physical therapy and the timing of physical therapy initiation on downstream health care utilization and costs among patients with acute LBP.

Nearly 1 of 55 patients with LBP are referred for physical therapy by physicians. The study took patients who had a new onset of LBP between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2013, in New York State and grouped them into different cohorts based on whether they received physical therapy and the timing of physical therapy initiation over the course of 1 year.

The results found that among 46,914 patients with acute LBP, 40,246 patients did not receive physical therapy and 6,668 patients received physical therapy initiated at different times. After examining these findings, researchers found that health care utilization and cost measures were the lowest among patients that did not receive physical therapy followed by patients that received immediate physical therapy treatment (within 3 days).

The conclusion? When a referral for physical therapy is warranted for patients with acute LBP, immediate referral and initiation (within 3 days) may lead to lower health care utilization and LBP-related costs.

Liu, et al. “Immediate Physical Therapy Initiation in Patients With Acute Low Back Pain Is Associated With a Reduction in Downstream Health Care Utilization and Costs | Physical Therapy | Oxford Academic.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 16 Apr. 2018,