Seeing one of our physical therapists early for your neck pain can help save you money and can reduce your use of healthcare. Below are the reasons why.
You’re Not Alone – Neck Pain is Common
After back pain and headaches, neck pain is the third most common cause of chronic—or long-lasting—pain. The prevalence of neck pain at any given point in time is about 12% in women and 9% in men, and its overall prevalence in today’s working population is approximately 45%, which is about half the prevalence of back pain. One way to interpret this is that for every two people that have back pain, about one will have neck pain.
Most cases of neck pain are due to a muscle strain or sprain of tendons or ligaments in the neck or areas that support the neck, though other issues may also be responsible. Some of the most common causes of neck pain include sleeping on your neck wrong, sitting or standing for prolonged periods with bad posture—especially from leaning over too much—spending many hours performing repetitive movements and carrying a heavy backpack, purse, or briefcase. Neck pain can also develop from conditions like osteoarthritis, a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, or from sudden injuries that may cause whiplash or other problems in the neck.
Are You Experiencing These Symptoms?
The main symptoms include pain that is often worsened by holding or lifting your head in place for long periods, muscle tightness and spasms, decreased ability to move your head, and headaches. For some people, neck pain is also accompanied by upper back or shoulder pain, and pain in the shoulder may actually be referred from the neck.
Due to its high frequency, neck pain is also one of the most common reasons that individuals seek out treatment, and most go to their primary care doctor first. Doctors may recommend medication, additional testing, a referral to a specialist, or some combination of these interventions, but evidence is lacking to support many of the popular approaches used.
Natural Care is the Best First Choice
Physical therapy, on the other hand, has been supported by plenty of research that has found it to be effective for reducing patients’ costs and their use of healthcare. It is also generally recommended to see a physical therapist sooner rather than later, but there is a lack of research on the impact of seeing a physical therapist early on these costs and use of healthcare. Therefore, a recent study was conducted to investigate how seeing a physical therapist at different points in time affected patient costs and healthcare use. The conclusion states:
This study has found an association with the timing of physical therapy consultation on healthcare utilization and costs, where delayed (waiting more than 14 days) and late (waiting to see a PT for >90 days) physical therapy consultation is associated with increased costs and overall healthcare utilization, particularly of healthcare services with conflicting evidence for effectiveness.
Based on these findings, patients with neck pain should strongly consider seeing a physical therapist within 14 days of the start of the pain. Doing so early in order to reap the greatest benefits. Patients that waited more than 14 days spent $1000+ more on their neck pain care. Patients that waited more than 90 days spent an average of $2000+ on the care for their neck.
Don’t Wait – if you’re currently dealing with neck pain, we advise you to consult one of our physical therapists soon to get started on your path to recovery.
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