August 2017 – Yoga for MSK Claims

New and innovative advances in the medical field are always exciting, but I am particularly keen on any research that combats a diagnosis using a remedy that is very accessible to many. So when I heard NPR discussing the latest findings from the American College of Physicians on the impact of yoga on back pain, my interest was instantly piqued.

Many in the industry will understand that back pain is one of the most complex and frequently reoccurring conditions; it is tough to quantify the level of function and map a return to work plan. For example, much of our research shows return to work rates for musculoskeletal issues are consistently in the top three diagnoses at 12 months, 24 months (see bubble chart below) and 48 months of claim duration!

In the ACP study, 320 participants were divided into three groups: one under took 12 weeks of back-friendly yoga classes, another given 15 sessions of physical therapy, and the third an educational book. Before the study, 70 percent of patients in the yoga and PT groups were taking a pain medication of some sort, dropping to 50 percent after the study.

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The study showed that yoga could be as effective as PT for back pain, and that it could be considered as an alternative for doctors to prescribe.

At the Claim Lab, the issues we see with back pain often go beyond the ailment, acting as physical manifestation of a more complex issue like depression. Yoga combines a physical element – back-friendly stretches and poses to strengthen muscles, alongside mental elements such as meditation and breathing exercises.

The multi-pronged approach that yoga practice takes could be an innovative solution to one of the toughest categories of claims insurance companies have to handle.

Will any claim operations start to look at more creative solutions such as yoga as a potential treatment for back pain and its underlying issues? Perhaps you already do?

We believe that data analytics should be used to accurately identify the type of claim that would potentially benefit from this approach, and open up the opportunities to use more creative interventions.

Email us, we’ll be practicing our ‘downward dogs’ in the meantime.

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