To help illuminate the complex and complicated nature of pain and pain treatment, Hinge Health released its State of Musculoskeletal (MSK) Care 2024 Report, incorporating findings from a national survey of 10,000 Americans suffering from chronic and acute pain.

Pain, especially chronic pain, can create a vicious cycle of fear, depression, sleep issues, activity avoidance, and more. One in two Americans experience MSK pain, and this year’s report includes 10 key takeaways that highlight the physical and emotional toll of that pain.

Among the takeaways:

● Pain is a mental health issue: About 1/3 (38%) of people in pain report feeling depressed; nearly half (44%) report anxiety. Furthermore, they say their pain increases and amplifies symptoms of these mental health conditions.

● Pain rarely exists in isolation: 53% of respondents say that pain affects their sleep while 22% report having obesity and 17% report having type 2 diabetes.

● Pain negatively impacts everyday life—and work: 27% of respondents agree that MSK pain has decreased their productivity at work, and 22% agree it has made them consider leaving their jobs.

● People in pain want to avoid costly, risky interventions: 77% of people in pain are looking for non-surgical options to treat their MSK pain.

● Barriers to traditional PT include cost, motivation, and access: Half of people in pain indicate traditional PT is too expensive to pursue. Of those who stopped PT, 54% indicated that insurance is not covering enough sessions.

“We live in a nation in pain. The fact that over three-quarters of people are looking for non-surgical options to treat their pain isn’t surprising, given that an estimated 40% of surgeries for MSK fail to produce improved outcomes or lack clinical necessity altogether,” says Dr Jeff Krauss, chief medical officer, Hinge Health. “Physical therapy by far remains the best course of non-invasive treatment for MSK pain but not enough people are able to access it. Employers have an opportunity to offer benefits that provide a real value to their employees and, in turn, create a healthier, more productive workforce.”

The survey was conducted with a third-party research firm between September 28 and October 13, 2023, focusing on 10,000 insured consumers in the U.S. ages 26 to 76 who have personally experienced either acute pain (lasting < 3 months) or chronic pain (lasting ≧3 months) within the past two years.

Overall, lower back pain was the most prevalent type of pain reported, with 78% of respondents indicating they experienced lower back pain in the past year. More than 50% of respondents have experienced knee, shoulder, neck, or foot pain in the past year. 

Featured image: Hinge Health