Proper care and lifestyle changes

Krauss said it often becomes a vicious circle in which chronic pain can intensify mental health challenges and the anxiety and depression can worsen the chronic pain.

About 40 percent of people with chronic pain coupled with mental health needs are not getting the necessary support to make lifestyle changes that are key for recovery, Krauss said.

And 30 percent of them are more likely to be prescribed opioids than those with chronic MSK pain alone.

People of color and lower-income populations with chronic MSK pain are more likely to experience higher pain levels, disruptions to daily life, and poor health, Krauss said.

The lack of access to physical therapy, especially in rural areas, leads to higher rates of invasive surgery, accompanied by long recovery times, the study reported.

Treating the whole person

Krauss said that the best way to make things better for people who are dealing with chronic pain is to “treat the whole person.”

For example, Krauss said, Hinge Health goes beyond physical therapy and provides an integrated clinical care team that includes doctors of physical therapy, health coaches, physicians, and orthopedists.

Members receive personalized exercise therapy plans, lifestyle support, and expert second opinions in a comprehensive care environment.

The key is to get people moving.


“It’s critical. It calms down the nervous system,” Krauss said. “Education, too, is extremely important. We need to explain to people that you are not damaged, your body is strong, and you should be moving”


Krauss also encourages the use of behavioral health support by utilizing health coaches.

“They’re the ones supporting people with addressing barriers. It is critical to motivate people. Get sleep, eat well, people just don’t do it, they need someone there to be accountable,” he said.

While MSK challenges are complicated, the path forward for employers and health plans is becoming clearer.

As the study concludes, “Leading organizations are adopting MSK solutions like Hinge Health that address disparities in care by providing a complete clinical care team, advanced technologies to personalize care at home, and connected care systems that bridge the gap between digital and in-person care.”