MovementX delivers nationwide direct-to-employer services that enhance workplace wellness and productivity.

Our comprehensive programs are tailored to meet the health needs of your workforce—reducing healthcare costs while promoting a healthier and more energetic workplace.

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Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSK): A Costly Challenge for Employers

In the realm of employee health, two crucial truths stand out:

  1. Physical therapy is an evidence-based approach to cost effectively treat musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders.
  2. Employers consistently grapple with MSK disorders ranking among the top three in healthcare claim costs each year, with expenditures exceeding $300 billion annually.

Given these facts, a pressing question arises: Why don’t more employers integrate on-site physical therapy to alleviate the financial and physical toll of MSK conditions?

To explore this, MovementX attended a workers’ compensation forum in Seattle, WA to see if we could gain some valuable insight from the local HR and safety professionals. But before you email us for more information, let’s delve into some enlightening data…


The MSK Problem: A Nationwide Epidemic

Musculoskeletal conditions are a pervasive health issue in the United States:

  • $874 billion is spent annually on MSK conditions.
  • 1 in 2 adults develop a musculoskeletal condition each year.
  • 76% of employers cite MSK disorders as their top health cost driver.


The Pitfalls of Traditional MSK Care

Contrary to intuition, more healthcare isn’t necessarily the answer. Data reveals that initiating MSK care with a primary care physician triples the likelihood of opioid prescriptions or surgical interventions. The situation worsens if an orthopedist is consulted first, increasing opioid use by five times and surgical intervention by seven times.

This approach has profound repercussions on the healthcare system. The cost of musculoskeletal surgeries has surged by 180% since 2010, despite only 40% of these procedures being deemed necessary. Alarmingly, 64% of all MSK costs are attributed to surgery. The U.S. also faces an opioid crisis, exacerbated by over-prescription. Physical therapy offers a proven first-line defense against pain, reducing reliance on opioids and avoiding overuse.


The Negative Impact on Employers

So, how do these issues affect employers? Employers play a pivotal role in the healthcare ecosystem, especially those with self-funded health plans. In these plans, employers bear the financial risk of employee healthcare costs, including out-of-pocket claims, instead of purchasing traditional health insurance. This means employers have significant influence over healthcare spending decisions for a large portion of the U.S. population. And not in an insignificant way:

  • $32 billion is spent on MSK claims by workers’ compensation plans for workplace injuries.
  • $116 billion is spent annually on non-work-related MSK injuries under group health plans.


Beyond High Claim Costs: Additional Burdens for Employers

Additionally, injured workers don’t just result in high claim costs. There are additional burdens for employers including:

Lost Productivity

  • MSK issues contribute to 216 million lost workdays annually.
  • Employees with MSK disorders (MSDs) often experience reduced efficiency and frequent absences.
  • Chronic pain and discomfort can diminish job performance and morale.

High Turnover Rates

  • The cost of employee turnover is typically 1.5 to 2 times the employee’s salary.
  • Injuries may lead to higher turnover if employees cannot return to work or seek employment elsewhere.
  • Recruiting and training new employees adds to the financial strain.

Impact on Employee Morale

  • Persistent pain and injuries can undermine job satisfaction and mental health.
  • Employees with chronic MSK issues have higher incidences of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia.
  • High rates of MSDs can create a negative perception of the workplace environment.

Legal and Regulatory Challenges

  • Employers must adhere to occupational health and safety regulations.
  • Failing to address ergonomic and safety issues can result in legal penalties and increased scrutiny.

The Physical Therapy Solution: A Cost-Effective Approach

This all sounds like doom and gloom, but there is a solution. Research indicates that early access to conservative care, such as physical therapy, can lead to substantial savings for both patients and self-insured employers:

  • 60% reduction in total care costs when patients receive physical therapy within 14 days of symptom onset.
  • Only 1% of patients receiving early physical therapy eventually undergo surgery.
  • 50% reduction in attorney fees when rehab is initiated within 30 days.

The Economic Value of Physical Therapy, A landmark 2024 study by the American Physical Therapy Association, underscores these savings:

Condition Savings
Knee Osteoarthritis $13,981
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome $39,533
Vascular Claudication $24,125
Acute Low Back Pain $4,160
Tennis Elbow $10,739
Urinary Incontinence $10,129
Cancer Rehabilitation $3,514

4 Ways We Integrate Conservative MSK Management into the Workplace

Despite the clear benefits, many employers hesitate to adopt on-site physical therapy programs. During our visit to Seattle, we spoke with several honest HR and safety representatives and uncovered the main barriers:

  • Sourcing Quality Providers: Employers struggle to find physical therapists with experience in occupational health.
  • Misaligned Incentives: Healthcare providers and employers often have conflicting goals. Employers aim to reduce claims, while providers benefit financially from increased treatment volumes.

MovementX is working to build a solution that addresses these challenges by promoting quality MSK care and enhancing employee well-being throughout the wellness continuum- from prevention to injury recovery to post-care monitoring.

A graphic showing the relations between the four sections to follow.

#1 Prevention and Wellness

As an employer, it’s clear that you aim to minimize injuries within your workforce. But beyond hope, proactive strategies are essential. MovementX can design a customized program tailored to the unique needs of your diverse workforce. Here are several proactive measures to reduce the risk of both work-related and non-work-related musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries and disorders:

  • Ergonomic Assessments: Provide personalized evaluations and adjustments to employee workstations to lower injury risks and enhance comfort.
  • Interactive Health and Wellness Workshops: Conduct engaging sessions focused on injury prevention and health improvement, featuring education, live demonstrations, and interactive Q&A.
  • Movement Screens & Risk Assessments: Use advanced technology to analyze movement patterns and identify potential injury risks, producing objective data for mitigation.
  • Individualized Strength and Conditioning: Offer one-on-one personal training to help employees meet their movement and fitness goals, thereby reducing the likelihood of injury. We also address metabolic conditions like weight loss, cardiovascular health, and diabetes.
  • Targeted Education and Self-Guided Courses: Provide online, interactive courses that empower employees to manage pain and prevent injuries effectively.


#2 Triage and Screening

Injuries and pain among your workforce are inevitable. However, research shows that accessing a qualified physical therapist within 14 days of injury significantly improves outcomes. Early intervention can prevent injuries from escalating into costly claims and unnecessary healthcare services.

When pain or injury occurs, MovementX can conduct an initial in person or virtual triage (injury screening) within 24 hours to assess the situation. This evaluation helps determine the best course of action:

  1. Immediate Recovery: If the injury is minor (such as a muscle spasm or superficial contusion), it might resolve quickly with simple treatments like exercises, heat, or ice.
  2. Moderate Injury Management: For conditions that require more attention but not immediate medical intervention, a referral to a course of physical therapy can effectively address the issue (see next session)
  3. Advanced Care Referral: If the injury is severe and needs further assessment, we will refer the employee to a physician for additional imaging or medical management.

Our flexible services can be delivered virtually or in person, depending on the location and needs of your employees. We offer convenient options, including:

  • On-site at your workplace
  • In-home visits
  • At one of our clinic locations

By ensuring swift and appropriate responses to injuries, MovementX helps keep your workforce healthy, productive, and engaged. Early intervention with a trusted professional also prevents a dangerous cycle of chronic pain and pain catastrophizing behavior from the employee that can lead to worsened outcomes.


#3 Onsite Physical Therapy

During triage, if our physical therapists determine that a condition is a work-related injury, we will coordinate the referral with HR and await a physician’s referral for treatment. However, the majority of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions affecting the worker are actually non-work-related. For example, a sprained ankle from playing basketball after work or a back strain from weekend moving.

Even in these cases, as an employer, you can be significantly impacted. MovementX can provide on-site personalized rehabilitation programs tailored to your workers’ needs. This approach eliminates the need for lengthy off-site appointments, promoting a more productive workforce and saving you money.

We take a highly collaborative approach with employers in recovering from workplace injuries:

  • Case Management Collaboration: Partnering with case managers and insurance providers for coordinated care and communication.
  • Early Communication: Establishing early communication channels with healthcare providers to ensure integrated care.
  • Sharing Information: Providing detailed treatment plans and assessments to healthcare providers to support informed decision-making.
  • Scheduling Coordination: Streamlining scheduling and follow-up appointments to minimize disruptions for injured workers.

Furthermore, because we share the employer’s incentive to expedite employee recovery, we offer comprehensive analytic and data-driven insights. These insights report on employee participation, progress, and program effectiveness. We aim to highlight reductions in injury rates, improvements in employee satisfaction, and decreased absenteeism, demonstrating our commitment through actionable outcomes.


#4 Post Care Monitoring

Following completion of an episode of care, the risk of injury recurrence remains high. It’s crucial not to reintegrate employees into the workplace without a plan to maintain their health. Our post-care monitoring program moves employees back into a preventative framework, providing tailored, condition-specific tools to stay healthy.



By embracing early physical therapy and conservative care, employers can significantly reduce MSK-related costs while enhancing the overall health and productivity of their workforce. MovementX is dedicated to realizing these benefits by bridging the gap between quality MSK healthcare and employee well-being.

Contact us now for a complimentary assessment tailored to your business needs. We are committed to delivering the highest quality, most effective, and efficient healthcare solutions for MSK conditions nationwide. We look forward to collaborating with you.

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