Chronic condition management programs are all about helping employees get healthier and reduce healthcare costs. But if your benefits package and condition management program doesn’t include musculoskeletal (MSK) pain management or chronic pain management, your program is falling short.
According to a 2010 study, at least 1 in 3 Americans will experience chronic pain during their lifetime. Among those who experience that persistent pain, MSK pain is the most common type of chronic pain, followed closely by severe headaches or migraines.
The Impact of Chronic Pain Is, Well, Painful
Chronic pain is everywhere, and often misdiagnosed and mismanaged. When you take a closer look at your workforce’s healthcare trends, you’ll see traces of chronic pain everywhere. Surgeries, imaging, medications, specialty treatments, and even missed workdays and lost productivity contribute to the growing cost of care.
Pain is critically important. It’s the body’s way of alerting us that something is wrong. But when pain becomes persistent or chronic, lasting months or even years, it interferes with the way we live.
|1 in 5 U.S. adults
suffer from chronic pain
|$600+ billion each year
is spent on addressing
|Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability and impacts mental health and quality of life|
The Chronic Pain & Chronic Condition Connection
So what does chronic pain have to do with chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension? Actually, a lot. Many times, chronic pain is a comorbidity, meaning that people with other health conditions also struggle with chronic pain. Chronic pain can happen for many reasons including injuries, autoimmune disorders like lupus, and even mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. But many people don’t realize that chronic pain can also be caused by chronic conditions like diabetes. Moreover, people with chronic pain are also at an increased risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Diabetes can cause nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy, causing pain and numbness throughout the body, but primarily in the feet, legs, and hands.
- Pain can cause high blood pressure as the body works to minimize the sensitivity to pain. Chronic pain puts the body’s nervous system into overdrive and eventually has a negative impact on blood pressure regulation.
- Tendinitis and other tendon problems have been shown to be caused by high cholesterol and increased lipid levels
How Do Pain Management & Chronic Condition Management Fit Together?
Including MSK pain management in your chronic condition management program is like a one-two punch for improving employee health and controlling costs.
Chronic condition management drives compliance with the condition. It’s about getting employees and members doing the things they need to do to keep the condition(s) from getting worse and ending up at a critical state resulting in ER visits, inpatient stays, and even death.
Chronic pain management addresses the biological, psychological, and social challenges of pain to avoid unnecessary invasive procedures that often are ineffective at addressing pain and, ultimately, increase medical costs and negatively impact employee well-being.
The Gold-Standard of Chronic Pain Management
Just like a strong condition management program, there are a few key tenants that make some chronic pain management programs more effective than others. HealthCheck360 partners with Fern Health because they are the gold-standard of chronic pain management with their biopsychosocial approach and one-on-one coaching support that addresses the biological, psychological, and social components of chronic pain.
Backed by Massachusetts General Hospital, Fern Health’s digital platform addresses the root causes of unresolved pain, not just the symptoms. Through their multimodal pain management programs, they adapt to each person’s unique needs.
Fern Health was selected as a HealthCheck360 partner because of some core tenants that directly support the goals our clients are looking for:
- Technology-enabled remote programs. Being able to participate in the program wherever and whenever is essential to employees and members on your plan.
- Expertise. You and your members want to know that you’re working with professionals who are credible. You want a program with board certified health coaches, clinicians, Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPTs), and safety protocols to keep your people safe.
- Personalized. There is a saying that one-size-fits none. Each person’s pain experience, pain tolerance, and lifestyle are different. A hyper-personalized approach is key to success.
How To Successfully Integrate a Pain Management Program into Your Existing Health & Well-being Initiatives
You’re doing the right thing by offering the support and services to your employees, but all of that effort doesn’t get you the results you’re looking for if your employees and covered members don’t know about, or use, the benefits you’re providing.
Successfully integrating a chronic pain management program into your existing benefits package requires thoughtful coordination and flexibility from your program providers.
Here are some pieces you’ll want to get right:
- Have One Place for All Your Health and Well-Being Programs
Most times, employees don’t remember or register for available benefits until they need to use a specific service. Work with a program provider like HealthCheck360 that can integrate your offerings in one place and make it easy for your members to access those programs with the click of a button or the tap of a finger.
- Ensure Your Employees Get Warm Referrals
Knowing which program to use, and when, is confusing to most employees. They just know they need help and don’t always connect with the right program. Or they don’t realize that there is another benefit that is a better fit for their specific issue. You want a program partner like HealthCheck360 who is able and willing to make warm referrals to your complementing programs when needed. Finding out that a vendor isn’t willing to make referrals after the fact means your company and your employees aren’t getting the service you deserve.
- Focus On the Results
Effort is good, but it’s the results that matter. Ultimately, you want to know that your employees feel better. You want a program that reduces both pain prevalence and pain intensity for employees, increases their movement and function, and of course, lowers your medical costs. HealthCheck360 and Fern Health show you results on employee engagement, pain improvement, program effectiveness, and biometric improvement.
Learn more about the Fern Health integration with HealthCheck360 here, or contact your HealthCheck360 rep today for a personalized demo.
 Journal of Pain: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20797916/
 CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus06.pdf
 Yong RJ, Mullins PM, Bhattacharyya N. Prevalence of chronic pain among adults in the United States. Pain. 2022 Feb 1;163(2):e328-e332. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002291. PMID: 33990113.
 Gaskin DJ, Richard P. The Economic Costs of Pain in the United States. The Journal of Pain. 2012 May 18; 3(8):P715-724. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2012.03.009. PMID: 33990113
 Ruan, Xiulu MD; Wu, Hong MD, MS; Kaye, Alan David MD, PhD. The Global Burden of Pain and Disability. Anesthesia & Analgesia: January 2017 - Volume 124 - Issue 1 - p 370-371
 CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/learnmorefeelbetter/programs/chronic-pain.htm