More investment in NHS physiotherapy services can help cut costs and improve long-term outcomes, according to a new report.
The study, published on July 9th by the National Institute for Health Research, said investing in physiotherapy treatments focused on individually tailored rehab could help to make further investigations unnecessary, making eventual outcomes better and saving costs down the line.
Titled 'Moving Forward: Physiotherapy for Musculoskeletal Health and Wellbeing', it noted that physio-led rehab can cut workplace absences caused by back pain by an average of five days, reduce costs on knee-joint rehab and improve hand functions for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Commenting on the findings, Nadine Foster, a physiotherapist and NIHR research professor of musculoskeletal health in primary care, stated: "This is a wonderful showcase of high-quality physiotherapist-led research, which is making a difference to the lives of patients with musculoskeletal conditions.
"It provides evidence of the difference that investing in musculoskeletal pain research makes for patients and the NHS."
The report highlights the overwhelming evidence that a combination of exercise and activity can have significant beneficial outcomes for osteoarthritis patients. It noted that this has been demonstrated in more than 60 peer-reviewed trials, mainly focused on osteoarthritis of the knee.
Earlier this month, NHS England launched a consultation relating to its plans to identify procedures that lack clinical effectiveness or are only useful in some circumstances. The first phase is focused on 17 different practices, including knee arthroscopy surgery for osteoarthritis, and arthroscopic shoulder decompression for subacromial shoulder pain.
By highlighting the widespread effectiveness of physiotherapy as a part of rehab programmes, the report will help establish that it is one of those procedures that should not only be retained, but also receive further investment.
The publication comes after another form of physiotherapy treatment was recommended for approval by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence last month, backing the use of the treatment for axial spondyloarthritis in patients aged 16 and over.
Written by Matthew Horton
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