Prevention is key to reducing the cost of employee back pain, arthritis
- The Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) says employers can help curb costs associated with musculoskeletal disorders through both prevention and proper treatment. Ergonomics, joint-friendly workplace design, onsite physical therapy and value-based surgical approaches can improve workplace health, boost productivity and cut healthcare costs, according to the group's new report, Preventing and Treating Musculoskeletal Disorders: New Strategies for Employers.
- According to the report, prevention strategies not only help employees avoid unnecessary surgeries and diagnostic imaging, but also can curb the overuse of and possible addiction to painkillers such as opioids, a growing concern among employers.
- NEBGH recommends that employers consider bundling treatment services for procedures, such as knee and hip replacement surgery, and negotiate prices with providers.
Almost half of all Americans suffer from back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders, which ends up costing employers $213 billion a year in medical treatments and absenteeism. Back pain is a major cause of lost productivity, according to Employee Benefit News (EBN), and accounts for 10% of healthcare costs.
To put that in perspective, that amounts to about $1,200 per employee annually, costing employers three times as much as cariovascular disease, EBN reported. Employers have responded to this massive health problem by adding back-pain management programs to their wellness plans.
Poor posture, muscle-straining work habits, and improper seating and equipment placement make the need for ergonomics training critical. More than half (51%) of remote workers have musculoskeletal disorders because their home-offices are not properly designed. Some employers are instructing these workers in how to set up ergonomic work spaces at home.
With how widespread this problem appears to be, employers will have to carefully consider preventive measures for managing musculoskeletal disorders if they want to improve productivity and help contain healthcare costs.
- Northeast Business Group on Health Preventing and Treating Musculoskeletal Disorders: New Strategies for Employers