The College of Public Health invites Temple University employees with work-related or non-work-related musculoskeletal pain, weakness or numbness to participate in a musculoskeletal health study running from now until April 2016. Musculoskeletal pain refers to neck, mid, or low back pain, shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand pain, pelvic/SI, hip, knee, ankle pain or TMJ (temporomandibular joint pain). Eligible participants will receive a $70 gift card.
The study, the first of its kind in the U.S., will be led by Assistant Professor Heidi A Ojha. Ojha aims to provide a convenient, on-site, streamlined pathway for Temple employees to receive care for their musculoskeletal symptoms and improve their health.
“While many people think of cardiac disease or diabetes as the most burdensome in the health care system, musculoskeletal disorders are much more common,” said Ojha. “The reality is that more than one out of every two adults in the US have a musculoskeletal disorder. In 2011, these conditions accounted for $700 billion in costs to the U.S. health care system. That’s more than heart disease and diabetes combined.”
According to Ojha, one reason for inefficiencies is the typical model that underlies the current system of diagnosis and treatment. “A patient has to go to one provider to get diagnosed and wait for results, and then go to another provider after that for treatment.” This delays the healing process and, said Ojha, could create more hassle for the individual.
“These inefficiencies exact a high toll on patients and burden the healthcare system.” In the model Ojha and her team are researching, all the care happens in parallel, improving the efficiency of the system. “We try to address patients’ three most important concerns up front: is there something seriously wrong; what can I do to feel better; and how can I get back to my activities?”
“Initially, many think they are too busy to invest time in self-care,” Ojha mentions. “The tendency with many of us is that we ignore musculoskeletal aches and put ourselves on the back burner when life gets busy or stressful.” But putting off treatment more than a few weeks can potentially lead to more persistent, chronic pain. “It’s important to address this pain early so that it can be taken care of in a couple visits, because if it becomes chronic, it can be much more complex to deal with.”
Ojha encourages University employees to participate who have an acute onset of pain (less than 3 months ago) and who have not yet sought care for their problem. She’s excited for the results of this phase. “When we piloted the study, we found that this model is feasible, and that patients reported high satisfaction with their care. If the model is successful, we would like to implement the same trial in a multi-site version, perhaps with Temple researchers taking the lead role in concert with other universities or medical systems.”