The Pain Crisis Affecting Your Workforce

Published Date: Jul 26, 2023

“I think that so many people dealing with chronic pain—even if they are the most motivated people on the planet—simply cannot be the best, most productive, and happiest workers if they don’t have a way to manage it.” —Mark Z, Hinge Health member

We hear this time and time again from our members, physical therapists, and coaches.

Back, neck, and other types of musculoskeletal (MSK) pain isn’t something people only deal with in their private lives. It impacts every moment of their day, including time spent at work.

For example:

  • Pain can make it difficult to sit at a desk, stand for long periods of time, or complete tasks like lifting heavy objects.

  • It can make getting through the workday more stressful, impacting motivation and increasing the risk of depression.

  • Pain can also be so overwhelming that focusing on anything else seems impossible.

Much attention is rightly given to the mental health and opioid overdose crises plaguing Americans. But far less of a spotlight is put on the devastating and growing crisis of chronic pain—a crisis that impacts all ages, all sexes, and all industries.

Americans Are in Pain

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost 21% of adults in the U.S. experienced chronic pain (pain lasting more than three months) in 2021.

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions like back and neck pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more affect half of them.

The World Health Organization cites that MSK-related pain is the most common form of non-cancer pain there is. And the rate of new cases of chronic pain is higher than that of new cases of high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes.

MSK pain is so widespread, no business can escape the impact it has on employee performance, safety, staffing, cost containment, and more.

MSK’s Substantial Impact in the Workplace

  • $560B-$635B: Costs accrued for MSK treatment and lost wages

  • 76%: Employers who say that MSK conditions rank among their top three cost drivers

  • >35%: Percentage of people in chronic pain who say their MSK condition limits life or work activities most days or every day

  • 10.3: Average number of days of work a person with MSK pain missed in 2021

Traditional MSK Care Is Failing Your Team

Chronic MSK pain is not an injury or illness that just needs more time to resolve. And sometimes, there is no identifiable physical cause at all. Such is the case in 85% of people with chronic low back pain, for example.

Rather, chronic MSK pain is a complex state that fuels and is affected by a combination of mental, physical, behavioral, environmental, and social factors unique to each person.

And this is where traditional MSK care is failing.

According to a study in the Journal of Pain, and in direct opposition to clinical recommendations, those with newly diagnosed chronic MSK pain are given opioids more often than physical therapy (PT), counseling, and other non-drug treatments.

Surgery is sometimes thought to be the answer. But procedures don’t always work and can even be unnecessary.

Even when recommended first-line treatment options are available, there are often obstacles like cost and proximity to care that impede their use.

What You Can Do

Pain is personal. The factors that fuel it are different for everyone, so a tailored solution is critical. So is the breaking down of barriers that limit people’s access to health care.

Hinge Health is the nation’s leading MSK health solution that combines digital with in-person care.

Our complete clinical team helps address each member’s needs—mind, body, and behavioral. And the personalized program is designed to solve for healthcare disparities by leveraging advanced technologies that make care plans accessible.

When your employees manage their pain, they are happier and healthier. They also report fewer absences, become more engaged on the job, and opt for fewer costly interventions like surgery.

Mark, who said his overall well-being “took a beating” when his back pain was unmanaged, now says that he has the freedom to move in all the ways he needs to on the job—all thanks to Hinge Health.

“Not only do I feel better and have more well-rounded physical motion, I’m able to perform at a high level at work. I recently got a promotion because of so much of the work I was able to do,” he said.

Contact us to learn how Hinge Health can help your employees and get a demo tailored to your business needs.

Traditional MSK Care Is Falling Short


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