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The cost impact of a quality-assured mechanical assessment in primary low back pain care

Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy

Objectives: The escalating cost of low back pain (LBP) care has not improved outcomes. Our purpose: to compare costs between LBP care guided by a quality-assured mechanical assessment (MC) and usual community care (CC).


Study Design: Administrative claims data analysis.


Methods: Employees and dependents of a large self-insured manufacturer seeking care for LBP in 2013 chose between the company’s primary care clinic (where MC was delivered) and community care.

The claims of 5,036 were analyzed for one year following subjects’ initial evaluation excluding only those with diagnostic codes for fractures, dislocations, or infections. MC included an advanced form of Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy (MDT). CC varied based on each subjects’ selection of providers. Primary outcome measure: one-year cost of each subject’s care. Secondary: number of MRIs, spinal injections, and lumbar surgeries undertaken. The payer’s proprietary risk-adjustment algorithm was utilized.


Results: After risk adjustment, the average cost per MC subject was 51.48% lower than the CC average cost (p < .0279). The utilization of MRIs, injections, and surgeries was lower with MC by 49.75%, 39.44%, 78.38% with relative risks of 1.99, 1.64, and 4.73, respectively.


Conclusions This 51.5% cost-savings reflects the substantial reduction in downstream how most can rapidly recover with self-care with no need for other seeking with MC, including lower utilization of MRIs, injections, surgeries, and downstream care after six months from the initial visit. It is well documented that the MDT clinical examination typically elicits patterns of pain response that in turn identify :

Patient Satisfaction

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