Prevent It

WorkWell's Workplace Injury Prevention Blog

Chronic MSK Pain, Anxiety, and Depression are Connected. Here's how Employers can Help

The connection between musculoskeletal (MSK) pain and depression is undeniable. Chronic pain leads to depression, stress, and anxiety and is one of the top reasons for workplace absenteeism. MSK pain, stress, anxiety, and depression feed off each other and create a cycle that deeply impacts employees.

According to the World Health Organization, musculoskeletal conditions are the leading contributor to disability worldwide, and MSK injuries are the largest single category of injuries. They are responsible for almost 30 percent of all workers' compensation claims.

With today's tight labor market, employers need to be concerned with employee total wellness if they want to successfully recruit and retain employees. Total employee wellness encompasses physical health, spiritual health, social health, financial health, occupational health, emotional health, intellectual health, and environmental health.

The connection between poor musculoskeletal health and total wellness is profound.

Let's take a closer look.

  • Physical Health – When employees have a musculoskeletal injury, it affects almost all aspects of their lives, including work and home, resulting in a reduced quality of life and increased dependence on others. As such, injuries severely affect an individual's life and make everyday activities that most of us take for granted, such as sitting at a desk, walking the dog, grocery shopping, making the bed, and lifting objects, extremely difficult.
  • Social Health – If someone is in constant pain, it affects their ability to participate in social activities. When someone is unable to socialize, they feel isolated. Humans need socialization, and their well-being depends on a sense of belonging.
  • Occupational Health – MSK injuries and chronic pain can affect mobility and agility, limiting a person's ability to work. Even if an employee comes to work and is in pain, they are not working at their full potential. This situation is referred to as presenteeism.
  • Financial Health – If someone is unable to work, it severely limits their ability to generate an income and adds to emotional stress and worry.
  • Emotional Health – Pain, limited mobility, and isolation can cause stress, depression, and anxiety. Constant worry about finances from missed work can also increase cortisol in the body, raising blood pressure and even magnify pain symptoms.
  • Environmental Health – Restricted mobility limits a person's ability to navigate their environment, whether walking up a flight of stairs, walking in inclement weather, or having limited ability to walk down the street.

Onsite Clinics vs. Offsite Clinics

With workforce injury costs averaging $1B/week in direct and indirect costs, more employers are investing in onsite PT clinics to lower expenses, reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, and maintain high productivity levels. On average, WorkWell Onsite PT programs reduce injuries and costs by 50%.

Managed onsite clinics are staffed by physical therapists with advanced specialized training to prevent and treat injuries. Clinics not staffed by physical therapists may still prevent injuries; however, they cannot create treatment plans for injured employees. In these cases, employees need to see a physical therapist offsite for a treatment plan that increases costs and reduces productivity when they leave the workplace for visits.

The diagram below illustrates the benefit of an onsite clinic versus an offsite clinic.

solution illustration -2

If employees have to go to a clinic offsite, they have a completely different experience than if they went to an onsite clinic. Treatment tends to be protracted, the employee is out of work longer, and costs are higher. Onsite PT clinics are more convenient, the clinicians understand the employee's job and work environment, return to work is faster and costs tend to be lower.

To learn more about the benefits of onsite PT programs, download our brochure below.

Onsite PT