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Virtual physical therapy battles the opioid epidemic

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSK) and chronic pain issues affect approximately half of Americans. Worldwide, around 1.7 billion people live with MSK issues. When left untreated, these conditions can result in an injury or corrective surgery where opioids are prescribed. Individuals with long-term or chronic issues have a higher risk of developing a dependence on the highly addictive drug. Each day around 41 individuals die from a prescription opioid overdose.

Fortunately, a study through Hinge Health determined that virtual physical therapy programs reduce opioid initiation by 42%, meaning the therapy negated the need to ever be introduced to opioids. Virtual physical therapy aims to improve overall physical and mental health and avoid preventable surgeries that lead to opioid usage.

General benefits

Beyond drug usage, virtual physical therapy is reported to reduce patient pain by 68% and condition-related anxiety and depression by 58%. Experts are seeing that individuals are more engaged in remote therapy than in-person because it’s typically more convenient, less expensive, and less invasive, which is creating healthier lifestyles.

Effects on the workplace

While opioids can result in overdose deaths, they do pose other issues in the workplace. The drugs have strong side effects (i.e., drowsiness, confusion, and depression), which can significantly impact an employee’s safety and performance depending on their job. Employers are seeing greater absenteeism resulting from MSK and chronic pain, and offering virtual physical therapy can benefit both employees with diagnosed conditions and those with the potential to develop issues later.  

By offering a benefit featuring virtual physical health, employers show employees that they matter and there is a safe and effective road to recovery when living with MSK or chronic pain.