Physical therapy referral and medication for ankle sprain visits to physician offices: an analysis of the national ambulatory medical care survey

Lucy C. Bowers, Phillip A. Gribble, Matthew C. Hoch, Alejandro G. Villasante Tezanos, Kyle B. Kosik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: Supervised physical therapy is the recommended care for an ankle sprain. Yet, recent evidence indicates some ankle sprain patients may not receive the recommended care, and instead, prescribed medication to alleviate symptoms. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to describe the percentage of patients reporting to an office-based physician in the U.S. that were or were not referred to physical therapy. Secondly, to describe the percentage of ankle sprain patients with or without medication administered, supplied or ordered. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of the cross-sectional National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) from 2007 to 2016. The NAMCS is a multi-stage probability sample survey of visits to office-based physicians. The percentage and associated 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for visits that had a physical therapy referral or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), opioid and non-opioid analgesics administered, supplied or ordered. Sampled data were weighted to produce national-level estimates. Results: A physical therapy referral was given for 16.8% (95% CI: 13.2, 21.2) of ankle sprain visits. Approximately 34.5% (95%CI: 30.5, 38.7) of all ankle sprain visits had a medication administered, supplied or ordered. NSAIDs (72.1%; 95% CI: 66.9,76.8) and opioids (21.0%; 95% CI: 16.3, 26.5) were the two most common types of medication. Conclusions: NSAIDs and opioid medication combined were administered, supplied or ordered more frequently than a referral to physical therapy. These findings provide evidence that suggests many ankle sprain patients reporting to an office-based physician are not receiving the recommended care; physical therapy. Rather, medication appears to be the primary type of care provided to patients. These data are important because it gives a focused area to improve the treatment of an ankle sprain by developing strategies that ensure all patients are provided the recommended care from the onset of entering the healthcare system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhysician and Sportsmedicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • non-opioid analgesic
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug
  • Opioid
  • rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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