If you follow us on Twitter, you already know that an estimated 11 million Canadians over the age of 12 suffer from musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions each year. Even more surprising however, is how much that number is expected to increase as the population ages. By 2031, over 15 million Canadians are likely to experience MSK conditions.
MSK conditions truly complicate day-to-day life, and the impact of these conditions can be more profound among aging Canadians. Aging can be difficult to navigate, especially if MSK pain compromises mobility and independent living, increases difficulty in daily activities, and disturbs sleep patterns. The need for appropriate care will only increase with the aging population; however, decision makers, healthcare professionals and Canadians have the means to do more to meet the needs of patients who struggle with MSK conditions.
Many Canadians may not be aware that the second leading reason for visits to the doctor are related to MSK conditions. Whether it is back pain, arthritis or headaches, MSK conditions often result in chronic or recurrent pain, which impacts healthcare system costs. MSK conditions not only have the highest prevalence among chronic conditions, but are also the leading illness-related cause of economic burden (direct and indirect) and disability. Furthermore, MSK conditions (and associated chronic pain) remain the second leading cause (after depression) of absenteeism from work. Additionally, the strong association between pain and mental health is well known, as is the consensus among healthcare providers that these disease processes are likely mutually supportive.
The good news is that new opportunities exist to deliver better outcomes for MSK patients at lower cost within the Canadian healthcare system.
The era of silo healthcare has passed. As we wrote about a couple of weeks ago, healthcare professionals working in a bubble with little to no communication with other professionals, is no longer the standard, but rather the exception. As Canadians strive to innovate, governments are expected to do the same in order to meet rising needs, including addressing MSK conditions. Encouragingly, some provincial governments have invested in new models of care to better address the growing burden of low back pain and other MSK conditions. However, even the most innovative models of care are vulnerable to the political cycle. Engaging all Canadians in the healthcare dialogue is the best way to improve the awareness of the pressing need for better care at lower cost.
The CCA believes that Canadians deserve more access to appropriate care that meets their needs. For many, that means access to chiropractic care; however, due to various barriers, they may be denied the care needed. Interestingly, identifying the healthcare “needs” of Canadians is very timely considering a number of upcoming demographic challenges. As noted, the prevalence of MSK conditions is expected to soar to 15 million by 2031 simply due to the aging of the population. For Canada to remain economically competitive on the world stage, Canadians must be healthy and able to continue supporting their families and contributing to their communities.
The need for appropriate care is continuing to grow as our population ages. Chiropractors are ready to do their part to optimize the healthcare team of every Canadian. The CCA is urging Canadians, providers and decision makers to start the discussion about the real, daily burden of MSK conditions and the importance of MSK health as a national public health priority.
Let’s start talking about MSK health in Canada! Follow us as we advance the need for an MSK strategy for Canada and look for the hashtag #MSKstrategy.