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Musculoskeletal Conditions

Why Employers Care

After the common cold, back pain is the most frequent cause of missed work days for adults under 45 years of age and accounts for 25% of worker compensation claims. Back pain is the fourth leading cause of short-term disability and the third leading cause of long-term disability. In addition to back pain, some other common musculoskeletal conditions are osteoporosis and upper extremity conditions in the arms and wrist. Ten million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and 34 million more are at risk for developing the condition because they have low bone mass. Another 1.9 million adults are believed to have carpel tunnel syndrome, a disorder in the wrists, resulting in 300,000 to 500,000 surgeries each year.

What Can Employers Do?

Some tips on how to prevent employee musculoskeletal problems include:

  • Encourage awareness in the worksite about risk factors for back pain, osteoporosis, and other conditions. Educating employees about risks can help them avoid some types of injuries. For example, promoting ergonomics and proper lifting techniques can reduce the prevalence of back pain in the workforce.
  • Ensure that health plans are adequately identifying and treating patients with chronic back pain, upper extremity conditions, and osteoporosis.
  • Encourage exercise, healthy weight, and physical activity. Regular physical activity has many proven health benefits; it can prevent some back problems and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Relevant Tools and Resources Include:

  • Preventing Overexertion Injuries
  • Injury Cost Calculator
    The Injury Cost Calculator allows employers to approximate the average costs of unintentional burns, falls, transportation-related injuries and poisonings among their employees. Results represent the average amount of money an employer could save by preventing these injuries.


Page last updated: August 15, 2013

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