The Impact of Musculoskeletal Conditions

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions affect more than one of every two people age 18 and older in the United States, and nearly three out of four of those age 65 and older. The cost of treating major MSK conditions is greater than for treatment of many other common health conditions, estimated at an amount equal to 5.76% of the US gross domestic product. With the aging of the U.S. population, MSK issues are becoming a greater burden every year.1

For employers who offer healthcare benefits to their employees, MSK conditions can be a significant contributor to healthcare costs, as treatment often includes long-term pain and disability. As an added blow, indirect costs of an MSD case, including absenteeism, presenteeism, and lost productivity, can be up to five times the direct costs.2

Some of these costs can be attributed to the short-term treatments an MSK patient goes through when seeking relief. These can include pain medications, which block pain for a brief time, or injections, which provide longer-term pain relief that may last several days to a few months. Neither of these options treats or resolves the underlying injury. Surgery is also an option, and is the best treatment choice for injuries such as ACL tears, fractures, or end-stage arthritis. In some cases, however, physical therapy (PT) can provide more effective and ongoing relief.

How do you know which option is best? The first, most obvious, step is to ask your doctor about your options and expected outcomes. Some people prefer to try less invasive treatments such as PT before committing to surgery, and others may prefer to have surgery because it’s the best solution for their situation. Regardless which path you take, it is important to understand the evidence-based outcomes around each to better align the treatment with your goals.

How BridgeHealth can help

BridgeHealth can be part of the decision-making process once you’ve talked with your doctor. Through our partnership with Hinge Health, we can help you with PT if surgery isn’t your first-line option. Hinge Health brings the three pillars of best-practice MSK care—exercise therapy, behavioral health, and education—into your home through a digital MSK care program that can help reduce chronic pain by over 60%. And if surgery is your preferred option, we will guide you to one of our Centers of Excellence for top-quality care. Either way, our Care Coordinators will be with you throughout the experience. Contact us if you'd like to learn how we can help you address the high costs of MSK conditions.

  1.  The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States, 4th ed,
  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Prevention of Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders,
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