Pain related to the way muscles, bones, and joints interact and respond to injury has a far-reaching impact. A United States Bone and Joint Initiative report estimates that one in two adults has a musculoskeletal condition, amounting to nearly 127 million Americans. The impact of musculoskeletal pain becomes even clearer when looking at how it affects quality of life, as evidenced by the time and expense involved with treating these conditions.
Cost Imbalance Between Treatment and Research
Patients with musculoskeletal conditions incur nearly $80 billion in annual medical costs cumulatively, according to one estimate. The report notes that the costs associated with treating such conditions far exceed what’s spent on research and similar efforts. According to the report, the most common musculoskeletal disorders, conditions, and injuries include:
- Back and neck pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Injuries from falls
- Sports injuries
Allocating Healthcare Resources
Researchers stress the need for a better allocation of healthcare resources to minimize the societal impact musculoskeletal conditions. Lost wages related to such conditions accounted for nearly 2 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2011, or just over $200 billion. Loss of productivity from back pain alone is $60 billion annually. Due to the diverse nature of musculoskeletal disorders, researchers note the need for an equally broad approach to research, with the report suggesting an emphasis on:
- Age-related and degenerative processes
- How musculoskeletal conditions develop
- Processes of repair and regeneration
- Control of inflammation
Benefits of Continued Research
The report emphasizes the importance of continued research, which has already resulted in several advances in how musculoskeletal conditions are treated. With rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, a new class of drugs known as biologics has shown promise for patients. For back pain with a clear structural cause, a shift towards minimally invasive procedures has reduced the risks associated with common surgeries.
Physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, modification of activities, and the application of heat and ice are some of the common treatments for musculoskeletal conditions. While some conditions fitting into this category are genetic in nature, many musculoskeletal conditions can be avoided or minimized with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and early identification and treatment.
For more information about back or neck conditions or to learn about available options for pain relief, reach out to the experienced Los Angeles spine surgeons at The Spine Institute Center by calling (310) 828-7757. We’re here to help.