It is common knowledge that the amount of musculoskeletal disorders are on the increase and that this is a direct correlation to the increasing amount of time that we spend working in the office sitting on our office chairs. It is no surprise then that more and more chair manufacturers are spending more time and effort into trying to find the most effective ergonomic solution, by that I mean office chairs and desks to these ever increasing problems. It is not to say that these efforts are wasted, in fact quite the opposite, however for those that do suffer from an MSD; physiotherapy might be another option to ease your pain.
Two government departments in Northern Ireland have provided early access to physiotherapy for staff with MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders). The results were quite positive with 80% of those treated said that the treatment had prevented them from going absent with over 80% indicating that there absence had been shortened. Based on the latest statistics released from the Health and Safety Executive 227,000 people have an MSD of the back, 215,000 of the upper limbs or neck and 96,000 of the lower limbs. These figures are staggering with the number one cause of long term absence at work being lower back pain amongst manual workers with 30% of primary care consultations with GPs being caused by MSDs.
To put this in monetary terms, West Suffolk hospital trust in Bury St Edmunds was commended in the Boorman report for having achieved savings of £170,000 through referring patients to physiotherapy. This not only saved money but also caused a 40% reduction in lost days through sickness absences. In 2008/09 an estimated 538,000 people in Britain who worked in the last year, believed that they were suffering from an MSD that was made worse by work. This meant that an estimated 9.3 million working days were lost to MSD in Great Britain in 2008/09. This trend will only ever increase if we carry on the way that we are. Perhaps it is time that we introduce physiotherapy into the workplace to help prevent an augmentation in this number and perhaps see if we can reduce it.