Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions already represent an enormous burden for the healthcare industry, affecting 1 in 2 adults at an estimated cost of $420 billion dollars annually. More troubling still, MSK conditions are on the rise and expected to increase by 115% by 2050, impacting more than 1 billion people.
The surge in MSK conditions is multi-faceted, linked to global aging and rising disease rates. Some speculate that the COVID-19 pandemic had a larger impact that previously thought on the MSK system, where a lasting inflammatory response in the form of myalgias and arthralgias are seen in some patients.
The need for safe, high-quality MSK condition management is more important than ever, an aim that can be achieved through evidence-based interventions to improve outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and improve the quality of life for those suffering.
Why MSK Interventions are Essential
If left untreated (or treated inappropriately), MSK conditions can become debilitating, leading to increased pain, limited mobility, and a decrease in overall quality of life. Early intervention and personalized treatment plans are crucial to managing MSK disorders and preventing the progression of symptoms. Research this year in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research© suggests that restricted mobility is tied to a reduction of earning power and maintaining mobility is a critical factor for higher rates of employment and greater income. There’s also a mental health component – patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain reported significantly more symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety than those without, with a correlation between the number of painful areas and pain intensity and the perceived mental distress further leading to reduced productivity and quality of life. MSK conditions are multifaceted and a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment is not ideal.
When to Act: The Right Time for MSK Interventions
The best time for MSK interventions is often during the early stages of symptoms. Timely intervention allows for more effective and comprehensive management of MSK conditions and can prevent further progression and long-term complications. Early treatment options include a combination of physical therapy, medication and lifestyle modifications – all of which can help patients avoid surgery. That part is key – inappropriate, unsafe surgeries (“low-value care”) is a real issue in healthcare today. Studies suggest that 40% of back surgeries ultimately fail and 34% of total knee replacements are later found to be inappropriate. These statistics suggest higher surgical revision rates, leading to increased cost and increased risk of infection to the patient. That’s why it’s so critical to engage patients early and often before symptoms progress.
How to Foster MSK Health: Practical Strategies for MSK Interventions
In many cases, a musculoskeletal surgery is the most appropriate intervention for a patient to live a pain-free life. With certain lifestyle factors in check, patients can undergo once-risky surgeries as great candidates for good outcomes. However, a stepped-care approach, beginning with less-intensive and lower-risk treatments is an underutilized cost and outcomes improver in today’s healthcare landscape. Take osteoarthritis, for example, a degenerative joint disease that causes the wearing away of cartilage that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Bones start to rub against each other, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced joint mobility. Osteoarthritis is on the rise – an estimated 1 billion people will be affected by 2050 – but a conservative care approach can help patients avoid surgery. A multi-disciplinary approach of exercise (or physical therapy), weight loss, and pharmacological pain management can help patients delay surgery and potentially lower costs for payers. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests that the cost associated with treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee could be decreased by 45% in the year before arthroplasty by following a similar stepped-care approach as outlined above.
The TurningPoint Program – Musculoskeletal Impact
Anchored by a Surgical Quality and Safety Program, led by past leaders of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and other Specialty Societies, TurningPoint believes in a whole-person approach to condition management. If a surgery is required, it’s critical to have medical policies in place that ensure are patients are getting timely, safe, evidence-based care in the right care setting. However, for many patients surgery is not the right answer and these patients need a different solution. For these instances, we’ve developed TurningPoint Digital Joint and Spine to meet patients wherever they are on their healthcare journey with video exercises, education content, self-management techniques and mindfulness and stress management techniques from leading MSK experts. When paired, this multipronged approach to condition management serves as clinical safety net for patients, delivering meaningful interventions along the way.
Interested in learning more about TurningPoint’s solutions to improve the quality, safety, and affordability of healthcare? Reach out today.