During COVID-19, employees turn to digital health solutions to treat chronic pain
May 11th, 2020  by  Marina Mastilovic

Due to COVID-19, millions of people are learning how to balance working from home with their everyday lives, forcing their physical and mental health to take a backseat. Left untreated, this chronic pain is being exacerbated, leading to an overreliance on pain medications and related mental health issues.

That’s what happened to Amy, a Home Depot employee with chronic back pain, who had to take 4 different pain medications just to be able to sit down at her desk. As weeks went by without treatment, Amy’s chronic pain became worse, affecting her mental health as well. Amy wanted to take back her life and cut down on the multiple prescriptions she took just to get through the workday. When Home Depot sent an email about their partnership with Hinge Health, a digital musculoskeletal (MSK) solution, Amy was grateful to be able to relieve her back pain from her home, avoiding unnecessary COVID-19 exposure at medical facilities.

By following her sensor-guided exercises and staying accountable with the support of her health coach, Amy was able to significantly lower her medication use. What’s more she’s now able to sit at her desk without any back pain, do work around the house, and play with her grandchildren.

Amy is just one of the participants in our 10,000 cohort longitudinal study published this month by JMIR (Journal of Medical Internet Research). Like Amy, participants that completed Hinge Health’s virtual MSK program saw an 80% improvement in their chronic pain by completing 10 minutes of virtual at-home exercise therapy paired with educational articles and behavioral health coaching from the comfort of their homes. Among these participants, the average reduction in chronic pain was 69%, and 2 out of 3 surgeries were completely avoided. Since access to primary physical therapy is limited due to COVID-19, participants in the Hinge Health study found they were able to treat their back and knee pain in their own homes and on their own time, homes remotely, alleviating the increasing pain they were experiencing as weeks went by without treatment.

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What we did in the 10K Study

Over a 3-year period, we followed 10,264 participants as they completed 12 weeks of exercise sessions, weekly education articles, and personal health coaching to treat their back and knee pain remotely from home. Researchers at Stanford, UCSF, and Vanderbilt conducted this study to determine the clinical outcomes of Hinge Health’s program on chronic pain, mental health, and surgery intent across thousands of people.

In addition, our team set out to discover how we can continue to keep engagement high as well as understand what factors predict program completion. As more patients and employers are turning to remote healthcare options in response to COVID-19, the reassurance that Hinge Health’s clinical outcomes are repeatable, especially across a large population, is critical to understanding a digital health solution’s effectiveness.

What we found

By studying over 10,000 participants, Hinge Health was able to determine the effectiveness of exercise therapy, personalized education, and 1-on-1 health coaching within a diverse population. Hinge Health’s virtual solution showed significant improvements in pain reduction, mental health, productivity, and likelihood of surgery.

Outcomes of participants who completed the Hinge Health program included:

  • 69% pain reduction
  • 58% depression and anxiety reduction
  • 61% productivity increase
  • 67% surgery likelihood reduction
  • 73% completed the 12 months

What this means

The results from this study prove that combining virtual exercise therapy with behavioral coaching directly reduces chronic pain. The impact of this study indicates a likelihood of reducing overuse of invasive treatments like opioids, injections, and surgery by incorporating just 10 minutes of exercise therapy with personal health coaching sessions remotely via a digital health solution.

Learn how you can support your members like Amy who are struggling with makeshift offices at home, cancelled surgeries, inability to attend physical therapy, and the mental health issues that come with chronic pain. Download the white paper about treating mental health and chronic MSK pain holistically.

Marina Mastilovic

About the Author

Marina is a Marketing Associate at Hinge Health. Originally from Virginia, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management from Virginia Tech. Specializing in social media marketing and public relations, Marina focuses on optimizing Hinge Health’s online presence.

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Learn how holistic interventions help tackle the co-morbid conditions of MSK pain and mental health. Download White Paper