Why You Should See a Physical Therapist in Corpus Christi First

Patients that access physical therapy directly spend less and have a shorter duration of treatment than those who are referred

Neck and back pain are among the most common painful conditions, and they are both associated with a high number of years lived with disability. The costs for treating both of these conditions is also extremely high and has been increasing steadily, while the same cannot be said for non-spine-related conditions. Despite the fact that these costs are increasing, there have been no significant improvements for the many individuals dealing with neck or back pain. Part of this lack of success may be due to the type and timing of care that is provided to patients, with some not receiving appropriate treatment soon enough. One way to help ensure that patients are getting the care they need in an expedient manner is with direct access to physical therapy. Unlike the traditional process of first seeing a doctor to get a referral, direct access allows individuals in all 50 states to seek out and receive care from a physical therapist directly, which may save them time and money; however, studies on the effect of direct access is limited. Therefore, researchers decided to conduct a study to evaluate the impact of direct access on costs and outcomes for patients with neck or back pain.

Patients given the option of direct access or traditional medical care

The study was run by a partnership between a private physical therapy organization and a South Carolina healthcare system, which created a neck and back care delivery program to offer alternative options to patients. A group of 447 individuals with neck or back pain were presented with the option of either seeing a physical therapist directly or going through the traditional model of seeing a doctor first for their condition. Once it was deemed appropriate, these patients were then treated with active physical therapy procedures, including education, various exercises and hands-on therapy, all of which were based on recent guidelines. All patients attended six treatment sessions at first, and if they improved, were approved for six more sessions for a maximum of 18. After completing treatment, patients were assessed for improvement and their total costs were calculated to determine how the approaches compared to one another.

Patients improve regardless of approach, but direct access is less expensive

Results showed that of the 447 patients included in the study, most (61.7%) chose the traditional medical route over direct access. Regardless of how patients accessed physical therapy, 67% completed the treatment program without additional referrals, and they experienced significant improvements in disability and pain. There were no notable differences between groups for these measurements, but patients who accessed physical therapy directly had fewer treatment sessions, fewer days in care, and lower physical therapy costs, radiology costs and total costs than those who accessed care traditionally. On average, treatment for each patient who received direct access cost $1,543 less than treatment for traditional patients.

Neck and back pain patients should see a physical therapist directly

Patients with neck or back pain have a choice when it comes to how to access physical therapy. Although some are more comfortable with the traditional approach of seeing their doctor first for a referral, this study clear shows that accessing physical therapy directly will result in:

  • fewer physical therapy sessions
  • lower treatment cost,
  • all while leading to similar overall benefits.

Therefore, if you have back or neck problems, make the smart decision, and come in to see one of our physical therapists first for the greatest benefits and lowest costs possible.

If you have questions about our physical therapists, please contact us.

-As reported in the October ’17 issue of JOSPT

Studies Confirm Physical Therapy Reduces Back Pain

Joint at base of the spine is frequently responsible for pain

Low back pain (LBP) continues to be one of the biggest health problems in the world, as 70-85% of the population will experience it at some point in their lives.  About 90% of all patients with LBP will have a good prognosis, regardless of the treatment they receive, but the other 10% will go on to experience chronic, or long-term pain and disability.  This often leads to individuals missing work due to their condition, and for many of them, the cause of the pain can be attributed to one or both sacroiliac joints.  The sacroiliac joint connects the sacrum bone at the base of the spine with the ilium, the uppermost part of the hip bone.  Sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SIJD) is a condition in which this joint does not move properly, and it is a common cause of back pain that occurs in up to 30% of LBP patients.  There are several treatments available for SIJD, such as physical therapy, which can include a variety of interventions.  Although physical therapy is often used to treat SIJD, research is lacking and it’s not completely clear just how effective it is for the condition.  For this reason, a powerful study called a systematic review was conducted to evaluate the possible benefits of physical therapy for SIJD.

Six medical databases searched for appropriate studies

To conduct the review, researchers performed a search of six major medical databases for relevant studies.  In particular, they were looking for studies that assessed the effectiveness of various physical therapy interventions for patients with SIJD for more than three months who did not have spinal surgery.  This search led to 1,114 studies being identified, but only nine of these fit the necessary criteria.  Four studies used manipulation as the main physical therapy intervention, three of them used exercise and another three used kinesiology tape.  Manipulation is a form of hands-on intervention in which the therapist manipulates joints and other structures to relieve pain, while kinesiology tape is applied to the painful area in order to bring about similar changes.

Grade 5 Mobilizations found to be the most effective of all treatments

Results showed that all three physical therapy interventions of grade 5 mobilizations, exercise and tape were beneficial for reducing pain and disability, and for restoring normal symmetry of the pelvis in patients with SIJD.  When the interventions were compared to one another, it was found that manipulation was the most effective of all three at reducing pain and improving functional abilities.  These findings strongly suggest that physical therapy is indeed supported as an effective treatment for SIJD patients.  Researchers behind this review therefore recommend that anyone affected by LBP that may be due to SIJD should consider seeing a physical therapist for a comprehensive treatment program that includes manipulation to address their pain and disability.

Take Home Message for Those in Looking for a Corpus Christi Back Pain Specialist

Pain is a complex experience.  There are many causes and often, it’s difficult to know the source of the pain.  For this reason, you want someone who not only treats lower back pain on a regular basis but someone who will take the time to listen to you and provide you with the right treatment.  Yes, conservative treatment works and physical therapist directed care is a great choice according to the medical literature.

To learn about how we can help, please click here, visit our contact page or give us a call at (361) 500-6686

Reference-As reported in the September ’17 issue of  The Journal of Physical Therapy Science


Lower Back Pain Treatment in Corpus Christi

Back pain is a problem most people will encounter at some point in their lives.  If you are looking for lower back pain treatment in Corpus Christi, here’s some information that will help.

The spine is one of the most important structures in your body.  It provides support and stability for your torso and head, and allows you to bend and twist your upper body.  Without your spine, you would be unable to stand up, keep yourself upright, or perform many of the daily physical tasks that you probably take for granted.

But in addition to its many important functions, the spine can also cause some problems when pain arises in the region.  Back pain is one of the most common and troublesome medical conditions in existence.  Up to 80% of the population will experience at least one episode of back pain in their lives, and about 50% will deal with it at some point every year.  About 200,000 Americans are currently living with a disability related to spinal cord injury, and back pain actually ranks as the second most common reason for visiting a doctor behind the common cold.

Low Back Pain Relief in Corpus Christi Start by Understanding the Anatomy of the Spine

To understand the many conditions that can result in back pain, it’s helpful to first develop a clearer picture of the anatomy of the spine.  The spinal column, or backbone, consists of small bones called vertebrae, which are connected by ligaments, muscles, tendons and joints.  These vertebrae divide the spine into the following three segments:

  • Cervical spine: consists of the first seven vertebrae of the neck
  • Thoracic spine: consists of 12 vertebrae in the upper and mid-back, extending from the bottom of the neck to about five inches below the shoulder blades
  • Lumbar spine: consists of five vertebrae in the lower back down to the pelvis

Each pair of vertebrae is connected by two facet joints, which help to stabilize the entire spine and allow it to move.  Between each vertebra is an intervertebral disc, which consists of a jelly-like substance contained within a fibrous sheath.  Together, the vertebrae and discs can only move a limited amount, but they are responsible for allowing considerable flexibility of the spine without reducing its stability.

Our Back Pain Specialists in Corpus Christi Regularly Treat These Common Issues that Affect the Spine

Within these many components that make up the spine, a variety of problems can come about.  One of the most frequent causes of back pain is a simple back strain, in which muscles in the back are pushed beyond their limits, usually from twisting, bending or lifting movements.  This can lead to immediate pain that may go away in a few days or last much longer, depending on how severe the damage is.

Other common causes of back pain include:

  • Herniated disc: condition in which the jelly-like substance in an intervertebral disc pushes out through a tear in the outer layer
  • Spinal stenosis: a narrowing of the spaces within the spine that usually occurs later in life
  • Degenerative disc disease: another problem that results from the aging process in which the intervertebral discs start to thin and wear away
  • Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis: conditions related to a crack or stress fractures in a vertebra

Regardless of what causes it, back pain of any sort can result in similar problems for those who experience it.  The pain will usually lead to difficulty performing many daily activities, especially those that require any bending of the spine, as well as trouble exercising or playing certain sports.  If nothing is done to address it, back pain can get so bad in some individuals that it will prevent them being able to perform their job, and they will have to miss work as a result.

This is why it’s crucial to seek out treatment for any episode of back pain that does not go away on its own within a few days.

Click here to contact one of our expert clinicians so you can get started on the recovery process.