World Institute of Pain

Congratulations to Dr. Peter Staats, Winner of Best Abstract at ASIPP 2022!

May 9, 2022

Provider specialty effect on spine pain resource use/costs

Authors: Dr. Peter Staats, Dr. Ricardo Vallejo, Nicolas Gasquet, Christine Ricker

Background & Objective

  • Total annual costs of chronic pain in the United States have been estimated between $560 and $635 billion, with losses in annual productivity value between $299 and $335 billion (1)
  • Patients seeking care for new-onset chronic pain may follow a variety of care pathways.
  • The aim of this study was to evaluate how initial specialist selection (pain specialist vs. an orthopedic or neurosurgeon) may correlate with healthcare costs in the first year after   referral among patients with chronic spinal pain.
  • Evaluate opioid use trend  in populations served by surgery as well as pain physician.




  • Management of patients with a pain specialist in the 1st year after developing chronic spinal pain is correlated with significant cost-savings
  • Starting therapy with a pain specialist may be a cost-effective option for price-sensitive patients and payers that need to manage overall healthcare expenditures
  • This is not to say there is a role for surgical specialties in patients with an urgent surgical need or after failure with pain management treatment options
  • Since 2016, there has been a significant decrease in opioid prescriptions among pain physicians.

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