The Relationship Between MSK Injuries and Mental Health

The Relationship Between MSK Injuries and Mental Health
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With a global population of 7.9 billion, it is estimated that 1.71 billion people are suffering from MSK injuries around the world. [1] In the United States, one in two Americans are affected from a musculoskeletal condition.

Accounting for the number one cause of lost workdays, an MSK condition can be devastating to a person’s well-being, beyond their physical bodies. One might find themselves isolating from social activities, their finances being depleted for treatment, as well as fluctuating emotional and mental changes while coping with their pain. With a population of 329.5 million in the United States alone, it is estimated that those suffering from mental illness are 52.9 million.

If you are suffering from an MSK condition and have noticed changes in your emotional and mental health, it is important to know the signs and understand the effects mental health can have on pain, how it can change your overall life, and why seeking care and staying active are key steps in your recovery.

How Mental Health Can Exacerbate Physical Pain

Often, employees who are suffering from an MSK injury or condition, such as a back injury or neck pain, may have a mental illness or disorder alongside. A few commons signs that may indicate the presence of a mental illness include decreased motivation or energy, significant mood changes, as well as changes to eating, sleeping and work habits. In addition, signs may present themselves as physical pain, like headaches or back pain.[2]

Mental health illnesses or disorders can exacerbate an MSK condition, cause general muscle tension or soreness, and chronic pain. Negative moods and emotions can cause a person to feel as if their pain will only worsen, there is no cure or therapy to help, or that no provider can give an accurate diagnosis. [3] In addition, illnesses or disorders like depression and anxiety can hinder a person’s rehabilitation by preventing them from seeking treatment for MSK injuries by inducing fear, apprehensiveness, and hopelessness.

Poor Mental Health Can Decrease Overall Quality of Life

The existence of an MSK condition and a mental illness can cause a dramatic shift in an employee’s life and health. People who suffer from mental health issues face a higher risk for developing other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, or cognitive diseases. Additionally, they may see changes in their weight, as well as nutrition, due to an increased struggle of coping with on-going symptoms from both conditions. This could be due to a lack of motivation or access to adequate healthcare. Mental health illnesses can be detrimental to one’s life, reducing the amount of activity one does, as well as keeping up with other illnesses, chronic conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis, and causing changes in weight and nutrition.[4]

The Importance of Staying Active and Seeking Care for MSK Conditions & Mental Health

Though it may be difficult with an MSK injury or some type of chronic pain, staying active is crucial to fighting mental health. It has been shown that physical activities such as dancing, swimming, walking, yoga, and even gardening, can help the following:

  • Improve mood and stress levels
  • Help muscular imbalances
  • Greater range of motion and flexibility
  • Correct posture and balance
  • Increased motivation to remain active[5]

It is vital that your employees seek the correct care if they are suffering from an MSK condition. Should they not, they may begin to develop chronic pain that could require serious and costly medical treatment, such as injections or surgery. While it can be stressful and anxious to seek care from a provider for any reason, it is necessary to accurately diagnose the injury and discuss treatment options. Know that there are options, and you can be an active participant in your journey to recovery.[6]

How Airrosti Can Help Employers

To address the combination of MSK conditions and mental health, employers should actively work to provide resources that target both physical and mental health therapy. As part of offering holistic company benefits, employers can offer mental health resources (usually through an EAP) that can target their well-being. They can also choose an MSK vendor that can help keep their partners active and healthy, while driving down costs.

Airrosti can intervene and bridge the gap between a lack of accessibility to MSK solutions, and benefits. By ensuring Airrosti is a low out-of-pocket, in-network benefit for your employees and health plan members, we can help target any MSK conditions your plan members may have right at the source and can often resolve most in as little as 3-4 visits based on patient-reported outcome data. As part of our comprehensive care plan, Airrosti can help guide employees to high quality care, should they need additional resources regarding their mental health and well-being. Let Airrosti help you help your employees, whether it is in-clinic or through our virtual option, Airrosti Remote Recovery (ARR).

If you are seeking more information or would like to set up a meeting on partnering with Airrosti, click here.

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/musculoskeletal-conditions
[2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590059/
[4] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/chronic-illness-mental-health
[5] https://rheum.med.ufl.edu/patient-resources/fibromyalgia-syndrome-fms/exercise-resource/
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3382682/

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