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Lower Back Pain Costs the United States over $50 Billion a Year

By Emily Killinghall
26 October 2010

Lower Back Pain Costs the United States over $50 Billion a Year

Lower Back Pain Costs the United States over $50 Billion a Year

Research suggests that 4 out of every 5 people have had lower back pain at in some point. In February 2010, the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that the direct costs of treatment for low back pain in the United States are over $50 billion a year. This is more than half the amount spent yearly on cancer treatment. “Prescriptions and surgery are not always the best treatments for back pain. Physical therapy is a cost efficient and long lasting treatment for limiting or getting rid of back pain,” according to Kelli Goedde, DPT, OCS, physical therapist and Gibson Country Clinic Director at ProRehab in Evansville, Indiana.

According to the Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most back pain is caused by muscle strain, awkward lifting of heavy objects, bad posture, weak core muscle strength and generally poor overall fitness. These factors can cause both sudden back pain and back pain that has been troublesome over time.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, WA, reviewed their process for patients with back pain. Physical therapy was found to be the best first choice for the treatment of lower back pain. Patients who saw physical therapists had faster relief in back pain and returned to their normal life more quickly. Thomas Kundig, a patient with back pain from a rock climbing accident, reported that when his back would flare up he used to wait a week to see a specialist, have X-Rays and painkillers prescribed, and need an MRI. ‘I was spending all my time in the doctor’s office,’ said Kundig. Kundig tried physical therapy and after 4 visits said his back is better now than it has been in a long time, ‘I felt they were setting me up for more of a permanent solution.’

“My most memorable moment of therapy was when I began to realize that the chronic pain had subsided and I was back to my normal routine,” said a recent ProRehab patient. The therapists at ProRehab are experts in the non-surgical treatment of bone and joint conditions. They can help patients recover using hands-on physical therapy and supervised, targeted exercise. They also teach patients how to prevent future problems. In the July 2006 issue of the Clinical Journal of Pain, researchers found that patients who were seen by a physical therapist within 2 days of injury or pain reported less pain after 6 months than patients who waited 4 weeks before receiving therapy. Bottom line: seeing a physical therapist quickly means less pain in the long run.

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