Majority of surveyed PTs report that over half of their chronic MSK pain patients are prescribed opioids long before physical therapy, often for prolonged periods
Portland, Ore., August 17, 2016

Clinicient Inc., a leader in outpatient rehabilitation solutions, today announced the results of the Company’s Opioid Abuse Prevention Survey, revealing the majority of musculoskeletal (MSK) pain patients are not immediately referred to physical therapy, despite the proven correlation between early physical therapy intervention for pain and decreased opioid addiction.

In a comprehensive snapshot of chronic MSK pain patients treated by physical therapists throughout the United States, the survey showed a majority are still prescribed opioids as a primary and often ongoing treatment course.

Of the 140 physical therapists surveyed:

  • 55 percent shared over 50 percent of their patients with chronic pain (pain lasting longer than 12 weeks) are still being prescribed opioids;
  • 59 percent disclosed over 30 days typically pass between when their patients report musculoskeletal pain to their primary care provider and when they are referred to physical therapy;
  • 32 percent revealed over 45 days typically pass between when their patients report musculoskeletal pain to their primary care provider and when they are referred to physical therapy.

Chronic lower back pain is the most prevalent type of pain experienced in the United States– and one of the most common causes of opioid abuse. Patients with lower back pain who see a physical therapist at the first point of care have a significantly reduced probability of receiving an opioid prescription compared to patients who see another provider first. At the same time, recent studies document a 423 percent increase in expenditures for opioids for back pain over approximately a decade.

“When a patient is suffering from MSK pain, physicians have a few typical courses of action: recommend rest and anti-inflammatory medications, consider invasive procedures like injections, refer to surgical specialists, and/or prescribe opioids. Unfortunately, the latter is frequently selected, contributing to an opioid epidemic that has been called the worst drug crisis in the Nation’s history,” said Jerry Henderson, PT, vice president of Therapist Success at Clinicient.

“We appreciate this is only a glimpse into the national pain picture, but it shows us that there is still work needed to shift healthcare away from a ‘prescribe drugs first’ mindset. Clinicient fully supports the timely intervention of physical therapy to ensure patients are on the correct treatment path.”

About Clinicient

Founded in 2004, Clinicient helps outpatient rehabilitation therapy businesses optimize clinical and financial operations from patient to payment, through a combination of cloud-based EMR, practice management, and revenue cycle management (RCM) solutions. By combining its process automation technologies with expert professional services, such as data-driven practice management coaching, Clinicient enables thousands of therapists across the United States to deliver more effective clinical outcomes, and maximize their collection of nearly $1 billion in payments annually. Clinicient is headquartered in Portland, Oregon; call (877) 312-6494 or visit or follow Clinicient on Twitter @Clinicient.


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