Physical Therapy or Advanced Imaging as First Management Strategy Following a New Consultation for Low Back Pain in Primary Care

The purpose of this study was to compare health care utilization and charges for low-back-pain (LBP) patients receiving advanced imaging or physical therapy as a first management strategy following a new primary care consultation. Claims and EMR data were used. Utilization and LBP-related charges over a 1-year period were extracted from claims data. In the propensity-matched sample (n=406), advanced imaging recipients had greater odds of all utilization outcomes. Charges were higher with advanced imaging by an average $4,793 (95 percent CI: $3,676, $5,910).

For patients with LBP whom newly consulted primary care referred for additional management, advanced imaging as a first management was associated with greater health care utilization and charges than physical therapy.

Neck Pain

Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, neck pain ranked 4th highest in terms of disability and 21st in terms of overall burden.

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