Can chiropractic care make a difference in the workplace?

An increasing number of musculoskeletal problems have developed with working-from-home requirements, says CEO

Can chiropractic care make a difference in the workplace?

With many workers shifting to a home environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and public health restrictions limiting access, chiropractic care can be a key way to treat certain injuries.

“As a result of the pandemic, [chiropractors] are seeing patients come to their clinics for care in much more advanced stages of disability. Pain is intensified and dysfunction has worsened because we have reduced access to other supports in the healthcare system,” says Caroline Brereton, CEO of the Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA).

The requirement to work from home during imposed lockdowns, as well as other factors due to the pandemic, has exacerbated this, she says.

“An increasing number of musculoskeletal problems have developed as a result of the working-from-home requirements over the past couple of years. A lot of time and money and resources go into making sure people have the proper chairs to sit on, that they have ergonomic equipment, that they have education available: a lot of that changed during the pandemic and, at the same time, there was reduced access to other opportunities for care.”

Injuries while working at home mean a worker should qualify for benefit coverage, according to some recent court cases. As musculoskeletal experts, chiropractors can help, says Brereton.

“They are experts in the area of diagnoses, assessment and treatment of conditions that affect the muscles, bones, and then the spine and the related nervous system. The issue of disability related to musculoskeletal problems — which is now recognized as a global issue and a leading cause of disability worldwide — is something that chiropractors are specifically trained to address,” she says. “Chiropractors work very frequently on a daily basis with patients who are suffering from chronic pain and disability related to musculoskeletal injuries and there’s a variety of treatment options and supports the chiropractors.”

The main benefits of chiropractic treatment begin when the initial diagnosis is made but that doesn’t always happen, says Brereton, which is to the patient’s detriment.

“What we know about musculoskeletal issues, and disability related to it, is that frequently patients are misdiagnosed and they end up in emergency departments with no or poor diagnosis, and are often described painkillers to deal with it until they can get referred to somebody who can do a fulsome comprehensive assessment,” she says.

Once the initial analysis is complete, the work begins, says Brereton.

“Chiropractors’ first significant contribution to patients is a thorough assessment and an accurate diagnosis, and from the accurate diagnosis, you move into treatment modalities. Key treatment that they bring to patients with musculoskeletal issues is manual therapy; manual therapy involves spinal manipulation therapy, joint mobilization, muscle tendon treatments, and sometimes they use other modalities, laser and other techniques. Then the prescription of exercises or changes in lifestyle that patients need to take on themselves to help with the plan of care and to make sure that their conditions continue to improve in between visits and over time, learn self-management technique for patients with conditions or chronic conditions,” she says.

While health care spending plans are popular, not all of them are doing what they intended, found new research. In light of this, should organizations add chiropractic coverage?

“With the inclusion of chiropractic care, employees do return to work, not only recovering from their injury or managing a chronic condition to a greater degree, but also there’s a high level of satisfaction that employees have with accessing chiropractic care,” says Brereton.

“The inclusion of manual therapy is an evidence-based approach to chronic neck pain and low back pain, which are the majority of the musculoskeletal type of injuries that workers experience on the job.”