Early PT for back pain reduces cost, and procedures.
I've been a PT for 19 years now treating primarily spine pain for the last 13 of them. Sadly the vast majority of the spine patients that I see have pain that has come and gone, getting progressively worse over many years. By the time they get to me they have full blown sciatic symptoms and are very far down the scale with regards to the extent of their injury. Often I am surprised to hear they were never referred for PT before. Usually just medication, rest, maybe an injection, then off to a surgeon. Worse yet, they get better but are never given the opportunity to learn what they can do to prevent future injuries and self manage the inevitable setback they'll have down the road. On the rare occasion I actually see a patient with a recent onset of acute low back they are often resolved in only a few visits. Sometimes 1-2 visits. Aside from getting treatment early, and education in how to self manage and prevent low back pain (LBP) there was a great study done in 2004 that showed what exercises were used for PT had a significant impact on the outcome of patients with LBP (Long et. al 2004 "does the exercise matter"). Not all treatment approaches are the same, and post graduate training matters as does the treatment approach your therapist uses.
This paper discusses the findings and benefits (less MRI's, medications, injections, etc) for patients with LBP who were seen by a PT early.