Much about work has changed over the last two years, but one thing remains constant as it has for decades: chronic pain is still a problem for workers and their employers in 2022. Pain is a costly problem across the nation, where some $635 billion is spent annually on treatment, lost productivity, presenteeism, pain medication dependency caused by overuse, and workers’ compensation claims related to pain.
And with employees in many fields facing new pressures—altered workspaces, less ergonomic support for home-based or remote workers, higher workloads—it’s never been more important for safety leaders to integrate pain, both chronic and acute, into their safety and wellness plans.
What is Chronic Pain?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines chronic pain as “pain that lasts more than several months (three to six months or longer than normal healing).” More than 25 million adults in America experience chronic pain at any given time.
Fortunately, there are solutions that come with a track record of success in helping employees deal with pain, reduce pain levels and mitigate the costs associated with pain. Ergonomic best practices, including proper posture, mechanics, and other behaviors, can go a long way in preventing pain from becoming an issue in the first place. Likewise, employers can utilize technology to support and augment employees’ physical abilities and reduce overexertion that can lead to pain.
But most safety professionals realize that pain is difficult to eliminate entirely, and even with robust preventative solutions in place, some workers are still likely to experience pain on the job and in their personal lives. Left unmanaged, that pain can have serious ripple effects in the workplace and beyond. Employees in pain are more likely to become fatigued and distracted, leading to increased accident and injury risks. Pain leads to lost productivity, lower engagement, and higher absenteeism. It’s also a mental health factor for workers, contributing to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues that detract from overall wellbeing as well as work performance.
That’s where DORN’s proprietary PainRelief therapy comes in. PainRelief therapy, or PainFree therapies as we call them here at DORN, are proven to reduce pain levels by up to 82%, and our PainRelief programs consistently deliver up to 600% ROI annually.
Here’s why your safety plan needs to incorporate Pain Relief therapies in 2022.
What is Pain Relief Therapy?
PainFree treatments are a non-OSHA-recordable solution to chronic pain, injury rates and high workers’ comp costs. Treatments are conducted by certified Injury Prevention Specialists trained in using DORN’s proprietary hands-on techniques to target not just the pain itself, but the root cause of the pain. Typically, employees participate in one to two sessions per week, with each session lasting between 15 and 30 minutes. Providers evaluate each employee individually, determining the best route to PainRelief based on each worker’s job tasks, specific health concerns, and pain levels.
These therapies tend to target tendons, ligaments, and muscles that see repetitive use or strain. The most common areas in need of PainRelief treatment are the back, shoulders, neck, arms, and knees. Targeted pressure and other PainRelief techniques aim to improve soft-tissue health, helping employees achieve a higher quality of life while reducing pain and injury risk factors that can snowball into major injuries, lost time, and high claims costs.
What is Pain Relief Therapy NOT?
PainFree therapies, or targeted PainRelief therapies of any kind, are not the same as basic massage therapy. Massage therapy tends to address muscle tension through pressure and tissue stretching and usually aims to alleviate overall tightness and soreness. Research shows some evidence that massage therapy can help alleviate certain types of pain, but most improvements only last a short time.
Chronic pain and muscle tension are not equal, and should not be treated the same way. Work-related chronic pain can be caused by overexertion and strain on connective tissues, which requires targeted relief with specific techniques designed for those areas specifically. Massage therapy can actually aggravate inflammation and pain caused by overexertion, making the problem worse.
PainRelief therapy is also not the same as chiropractic medicine. Chiropractors focus on the alignment of the skeleton and spine, not on connective tissue.
The Benefits of Pain Relief Therapy when combined with Instinctive Movement Training and Ergonomic Assessments
As we’ve already mentioned, pain is incredibly costly. Employer costs associated with pain can increase dramatically as pain advances from mild discomfort and soreness to constant acute pain that turns chronic.
PainRelief therapy is an essential tool for getting ahead of the cost curve. Implementing PainFree treatments and making them accessible to all employees—not just the ones suffering from chronic pain—will help slow or prevent the progression of pain and stop injuries from occurring.
In addition to the cost benefits, DORN has also observed the following benefits in our partner workforces:
· Reductions in overall pain levels and frequency of pain
· Increased morale and higher productivity
· Lower fatigue levels and prescription pain medication usage
· Fewer doctors’ visits leading to workers’ comp claims and missed workdays
Chronic Pain Case Study #1: Mattress Manufacturer
After contracting for injury prevention services from another provider for 10 years with minimal results, DORN introduced our PainFree manual therapies across 15 sites (now 17) operated by a major bedding manufacturer, responding to reports of high rates of strain and overexertion injuries, including chronic pain. Employees’ job tasks required repetitive motions that put them at risk of heightened pain levels, and the resulting costs were growing severe—the client reported that a single adjudicated claim ran up to over $50,000 on average.
After introducing PainRelief therapies in conjunction with body mechanics training and ergonomic support, the client saw dramatic improvements in their injury numbers, including:
· 60% decrease in absenteeism
· 70% decrease in doctors’ visits
· >1% workers’ comp claims as percent of workforce (was 6.8% before PainRelief programs)
· Total cost savings: $2 million the first full year and over $3 million the next
Chronic Pain Case Study #2: Aerospace Manufacturer
Another client organization, a major employer in the aerospace industry, experienced high rates of chronic pain and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), two problems that are closely linked in their root causes and solutions. Common issues included pain from reaching overhead for long periods as well as overexertion from lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy objects in confined or awkward spaces. The client reported an average claim cost of $45,000 per claim between direct and indirect factors.
Over a four-year period, DORN implemented on-site PainRelief therapies that served over 400 employees. The results:
· 70% decrease in pain levels
· 92% of employees report lower stress levels
· 42% decrease in doctors’ visits
· ROI of $10-$15 for every $1 spent
· 100% of participants reported their jobs became easier after PainRelief treatments
Conclusion: Pain Relief is a critical element of any safety program
With the high costs of pain and the clear evidence of the positive effects of PainRelief therapies, it’s easy to see why so many employers are learning that solutions for pain are essential for keeping a workforce productive, engaged, and healthy. When combined with other injury prevention services such as ergonomic assessments, biomechanics training, and technique reinforcement, PainFree treatments can deliver an ROI of over 600%.
Contact DORN today to learn more about how PainFree therapies can help you meet your safety goals for 2022: [email protected]