Doctors often order more tests, drugs, and even surgeries than are really needed. But they sometimes overlook proven treatments, too, including physical therapy for back pain, the shingles vaccine, and drugs to prevent migraines.  

Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain

People with new lower back pain referred to physical therapy within 14 days were less likely to be prescribed painkilling opioids, according to a 2015 study in the journal BMC Health Services Research. But the study found that only about 24 percent of people with new lower back pain received physical therapy within 14 days. The therapy can also help you after an injury or surgery, or if you have shoulder or neck pain, or osteoarthritis. So if you suffer from one of those conditions, ask your ­doctor whether physical therapy might help.

The Shingles Vaccine

Three out of four Americans eligible for the shingles vaccine—mostly people 60 and older—still haven’t gotten it, according to the CDC. A main reason: cost. Depending on your insurance, you may have to pay close to $200 out of pocket. Call your insurer to ask how to best reduce your costs. Or go to merckhelps.com to see whether you qualify for a free Zostavax shot.

Drugs to Prevent Migraines

Only 13 percent of people with diagnosed migraines take medication to prevent the headaches, though 38 percent of them could benefit from the drugs. “Many people assume they have tension or sinus headaches,” says MaryAnn Mays, M.D., a headache specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. The American Academy of Neurology recommends preventive measures such as certain beta-blockers if you have migraines eight or more days in a month.