The burden of musculoskeletal disease has had a significant impact on the lives of Canadians at home and at work, said Alison Dantas, chief executive officer at Canadian Chiropractic Association during Benefits Canada‘s 2022 Chronic Disease at Work event in February.

According to the World Health Organization, musculoskeletal conditions are the leading cause of disability around the globe. More than 11 million Canadians suffer with a musculoskeletal condition every year and this is expected to increase to 15 million per year over the next decade.

Some 85 per cent of workers will suffer with back pain in their lifetime and 72.9 per cent of those who suffer from chronic pain say it interferes with their work, said Dantas. A third of all lost work time is due to musculoskeletal issues and the conditions are one of the top three drivers of short-term and long-term disability claims in Canada.

Read: Employers leveraging benefits, flexibility to prevent pandemic surge in disability claims

There’s also a link between chronic pain and mental-health conditions, she said, with evidence that 61 per cent of people with mental-health conditions also experiencing chronic pain and 65 per cent of those with chronic pain also experiencing mental-health issues. “To no one’s surprise, the effects of COVID restrictions and working remotely is having a negative effect on our bodies.”

About half (51 per cent) of employers anticipate musculoskeletal health issues in the year ahead due to poor ergonomic workspaces and more than half of those working remotely reported a significant increase in musculoskeletal complaints. “Canadians went into remote workplaces as an emergency [and] it’s now become a new way of living and working,” said Dantas, recommending that plan sponsors pay attention to home workspaces because, over time, poor setups can cause damage to the musculoskeletal system.

The lingering effects of long coronavirus, such as headaches, joint pain and muscle pain, “are all areas where chiropractors have expertise and [they’re] ready to play a role in supporting patient rehabilitation,” she said. “Chiropractic care is vital to the correct diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management of musculoskeletal, conditions and the management of pain.”

Chiropractors are trained to diagnose the underlying cause of musculoskeletal conditions and recommend treatment options to relieve pain, restore mobility and prevent reoccurrence so that people can lead a healthy and active life. Chiropractic care, she added, is evidence-based, patient centred, non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical.

Read: Sounding Board: Chiropractic care more vital than ever

Chiropractic treatment focuses on pain and symptom management, improved function and decreasing the risk of reoccurrence, chronicity and disability, said Dantas. “Chiropractic care allows the person to work and function without living in pain,“ which can improve their quality of life.

It has also been shown to reduce short- and long-term disability risk, help people return to work faster, increase productivity, lower pharmaceutical and other treatment costs, support mental health, increase patient satisfaction and encourage people to co-manage their health.

Chiropractors are very committed to helping with education and doing outreach and can help with workplace programming, said Dantas, noting the Canadian Chiropractic Association is a partner that can work with plan sponsors “to keep your teams healthy, mobile and productive.”

Read more coverage of the 2022 Chronic Disease at Work conference.