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Econ 101: The Billion Dollar Spine

Sara Shupe, MSPT, Dip.MDT is a physical therapist specialist that has been practicing for almost 2 decades in the Twin Cities Metro Area of Minnesota. Sara is the Founder of J.O.Y. Physical Therapy Inc. which provides high-value, convenient mobile and telehealth PT to MN and WI. Sara’s work on early access to specialized physical therapy in the treatment of low back pain won an innovation award and has been presented at the National Association of Spine Society in CA and  Idaho, the MDT Conference of the Americas, and The American Physical Therapy Association of MN. Sara lives in Eagan with her husband, teenage son, and Dox mix puppy.

I was never a friend of numbers. Math had me in tears many times in my college days. Numbers can be a blessing, however. I usually find that to be the case if they are trending in the negative direction:

I lost 5 pounds! I saved $100 on my grocery bill! My son's tuition was reduced by 8%!

Not all number trends are positive.

Over the years of practicing physical therapy, I noticed that each few years, more zeros were added to the economy of back pain. In 2017, back pain passed heart conditions and cancer as the number one disability world-wide! 

"Low back pain (LBP) is a common and costly medical condition associated with significant physical pain, disability, and loss of productivity. Recent reports ranked LBP as the leading cause of disability, as measured by years lived with disability in the United States and across the globe.1,2 In 2014, approximately 68.6 million (28.6%) adults in the United States reported having LBP that lasted a whole day or more in the past 3 months.3 The estimated total costs associated with LBP in the United States exceed $$100 billion per year; two-thirds of the costs are indirect (lost wages and reduced productivity)."

Did they say hundreds of billions? 

Look at all those zeros!

In this article, Liu and his colleagues (Physical Therapy J, 2018) found that one way to save between 18 and 50% is to have physical therapy before an injection or surgery. Other researchers have suggested that it can save thousands of dollars per episode if physical therapy is implemented within 14 days from onset (Childs, J et al 2012). As a result of these trends, Canada has implemented successful programs of savings by setting up physical therapists as the entry point of care for their low back pain, as well as other musculoskeletal problems (Woodhouse, S et al), saving the country all these zeros!

Reduce the economy of your back pain: Get in today!

Save time and money with J.O.Y. Physical Therapy's mobile and telehealth specialized physical therapy as well as same-day visit options! Call 651-800-MYPT or go to www.joy-pt.com!

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