Seeing an Osteopath first will also reduce a patient’s risk of needing to perform a surgical operation to treat back pain. A research released in Spine in 2013 looked at statistics from government employees and found 43 percent of those with a back injury who first approached their doctor, ended up getting surgery when just 1.5 percent of those who first had Osteopathic treatment eventually had surgery for back pain — a major disparity.
Will it matter what sort of health care provider a patient first sees for treatment when it comes to a condition like low back pain? A report released in 2015 investigated this issue and concluded that a patient’s originally treated form of healthcare provider, had a significant effect on both their short-term and long-term prognoses.
Researchers in the study examined 719 patients with low back pain, 403 of whom first met with a general practitioner and the remainder were first receiving treatment from an Osteopath. Studies found that not only did the patients in the Osteopathic Treatment community report a significant decline in their low back pain, they were much more satisfied with their treatment. The study concluded they strongly recommended Osteopathic care for patients with low back pain as the main and initial treatment option.
In a 2019 study, researchers reviewed medical records from over 216,000 patients without a history of opioid use and who had new-onset back pain, to see if initial provider choice influenced future prescription narcotic use. The results showed that in the short-term 22 percent of patients required an opioid prescription; however, patients who first met with an Osteopath were much less likely to need either a short-term or long-term medication plan, than those who first saw a general practitioner. The study authors concluded, “Incentivising use of conservative therapists may be a strategy to reduce risks of early and long-term opioid use.”
A subsequent research tracked a group of 2,870 patients for four-years, with acute and chronic low back pain. The researchers found that Osteopathic treatment offered more beneficial short-term outcomes for patients with chronic back pain, while patients with both acute and chronic low back pain showed better long-term outcomes, especially in chronic patients with leg pain extending below the knee.