A study recently published in Spine reported that consultation with a physiatrist (specialist in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation) decreased rates of spine surgery by 25%, reduced overall costs to the healthcare system and improved patient satisfaction. (Spine 2013; 38: E178-E184)
According to the study authors physiatric consultation:
- May give patients a more balanced understanding of their diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options
- Spend more time counseling about these issues
- May change the diagnosis or find treatable secondary musculoskeletal pain generator
- Detect psychosocial factors that may make surgery inappropriate
- And may be more effective than consultation with a primary care physician
So, if you have low back pain it would seem worthwhile to at l 100 east talk to a physiatrist before going under the knife. I am surely a little biased (being a physiatrist). That being said, I live in a town where the rate of lumbar fusion is 20X the average in other parts of the country. So I would like to have an impact for the positive in terms of patient health.