When compared to other medical conditions, the cost of treating musculoskeletal disorders costs significantly more. And being that musculoskeletal disorders are one of the most common types of work-related injuries, this should serve as a real eye-opener to employers everywhere.
The term “musculoskeletal” refers to any medical conditions associated with the bones, joints and muscles. The human body is a complex machine that relies on these elements to function properly. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for workers to develop injuries and/or illness in their bones, joints, and muscles, resulting in a musculoskeletal disorder.
Workers are often susceptible to musculoskeletal disorders when proper ergonomics is not implemented. Sitting in front of a desk with poor posture for eight or more hours per day, for instance, may result in back pain due to the stress placed on the vertebrae.
List of common musculoskeletal disorders:
- Lower back pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Currently, approximately 80% of all healthcare costs in Europe are associated with chronic disease and musculoskeletal disorders. Dutch researchers wanted to investigate this phenomenon further, so they took a random survey of roughly 8,900 European residents, asking them various questions ab out their health and what (if any) medical conditions they were experiencing at the time. Respondents reported a wide variety of medical conditions, some of which included musculoskeletal, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) cancer, skin conditions and mental health problems.
8.5% of the respondents surveyed reported having only a muscuskeletal disorder, whereas as 6.1% had a muscuskeletal disorder as 1 of 2 comorbid condition, and 5.6% had a muscuskeletal condition and at least 2 other conditions.
Researchers discovered that healthcare costs were approximately 50% higher for respondents who reported having muscuskeletal conditions compared to any other non-muscuskeletal condition, disease or illness. And the more health conditions a person suffered from, the higher the healthcare costs.
“Costs for an individual with 2 conditions — neither of which was a musculoskeletal condition — were twice as high as costs for a healthy person. But if 1 of the individual’s 2 diseases was musculoskeletal, healthcare costs were 3 times higher. It is clear that the cost of delivering care to patients with musculoskeletal conditions is considerably higher than for those with other diseases,” said Antje van der Zee-Neuen, MD, from the division of rheumatology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
Details about the cost of treating muscuskeletal disorders was presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress in Paris, France.