UConn Health is taking a new approach to rapidly bring pain relief to patients suddenly struck by low back pain. To ease suffering the newly launched Low Back NOW program offers patients same-day or next-day access within 24 hours to start physical therapy. If needed, a follow-up appointment with a spine doctor is made for a more serious back issue.
More than 80 percent of U.S. adults are struck with low back pain sometime in their lifetime. The new program’s doctors, a joint effort of primary care, emergency medicine and urgent care physicians, are on the lookout to refer patients with specific low back pain symptoms to physical therapy immediately to help ease their pain. Low back pain most often stems from a muscle strain from heavy lifting, frequent bending or twisting, or prolonged bad posture.
“Back pain is very common and can often have flare-ups that wax and wane in severity,” says Dr. Isaac L. Moss, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery in UConn Health’s Comprehensive Spine Center. “It is critical to treat patients with these pain flare-ups in an expedited way to try to prevent low back pain from becoming a chronic problem.”
“Our new Low Back NOW program with physical therapy at its heart has already quickly brought relief to dozens of suffering patients,” says Anne Diamond, CEO of UConn John Dempsey Hospital. “When patients are experiencing back pain, time is of the essence. Having a physical therapist readily available enables our patients to be back to work sooner and enjoying their daily lives pain free.”
The program’s goals are to improve low back pain sufferers outcomes and daily quality of life with the use of physical therapy manual techniques, active exercise interventions, and education regarding pain and movement.
“This program is already helping reduce back pain patients’ doctor visits and is aimed at reducing readmissions to the emergency department by streamlining their access to outpatient physical therapy or assessment by orthopedic spine doctors should they have a more significant back issue,” says Jonathan Sylvain, supervisor of outpatient spine rehabilitation services at UConn Health.
Sylvain adds: “Recovery from low back pain thanks to early physical therapy can usually help patients get back to their regular routines within five to six physical therapy sessions.”
UConn Health aims to avoid or very sparingly use prescription pain pills for low back pain care to limit any potential patient health risks or patient safety concerns, especially given the growing opioid addiction epidemic nationwide.
Also, recent studies have shown when it comes to low back pain healthcare costs can be lowered, along with reduced use of opioids, if patients are referred to physical therapy and physicians early in their medical care process. Plus, studies have shown that early physical therapy intervention often results in more significant improvement in back pain and disability.
Referrals to the Low Back NOW program are made quickly following a patient’s medical visit with any UConn Health primary care doctor or via UConn Health’s urgent care locations at UConn Health Canton or Storrs Center.
To make an appointment with a primary care physician call: 1-84-Get-UConn or visit: health.uconn.edu.