Physician Screening Tool, PT Referral for Low Back Pain May Be Effective Approach for Treatment

We would like to share this article from PT Products

Published on April 4, 2014 by “PT PRODUCTS”

“An editorial in The Annals of Family Medicine suggests that the British screening approach for physicians with patients with low back pain (LBP) may help in creating a US-based approach that more often involves physical therapists (PTs) early on and lowers the financial costs of the condition. In the editorial, authors Timothy S. Carey, MD, MPH, and Janet Freburger, PT, PhD, comment on a new study of physical therapy management of patients with LBP, saying the results are an important step in validating an approach that involves early physical therapy.

According to a news release from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the approach described in the study involves physician use of a British screening tool known as the STarT, which is designed to help a physician assess LBP. Once the assessment is made, a medium- or high-risk patient can be referred to a PT for effective treatment.  The editorial answers the question as to whether or not this approach should be used in the US, with the authors saying yes.

The editorial authors point to logistical and regulatory wrinkles that would need to be worked out, but do note that similar screening approaches, such as those used for depression or alcohol use, were implemented fairly simply. The editorial states, “These advances don’t solve our problems with the large disability burden and high cost of low back pain, but they represent a promising start.”

[Sources: APTA, The Annals of Family Medicine]