Back, neck and shoulder pain behind high proportion of digital physio sessions


Almost half (49%) of online physiotherapy sessions booked since the summer through an app operated by employee benefits provider Unum have been either for back, neck or shoulder problems.

These issues, said Unum, could have been caused or exacerbated by poor posture while employees have been working at home without the correct equipment, desk set-up or environment.

More than 1,000 digital physiotherapy sessions took place via its Help@hand health and wellbeing app between July and September 2020. More than 6,000 video consultations were booked throughout 2020.

Peter O’Donnell, CEO of Unum UK said: “Our remote healthcare service has proven invaluable for many over the past few months, facilitating access to physiotherapists and GPs quickly without the need for face to face appointments and avoiding additional pressure on NHS resources.

“The challenges of the pandemic have clearly had a physical, psychological or emotional impact on many workers and these pressures are likely to continue over the coming months. Employers can support wellbeing and productivity by ensuring their staff are fully aware of virtual physiotherapy and other remote health services they have available to them.”

Earlier this year, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the University of Manchester began a study which sought to evaluate remote physiotherapy consultations being carried out during the pandemic. It is expected to conclude in June 2021.

A survey by charity Versus Arthritis in September also found four in five who began working remotely in lockdown developing some form of musculoskeletal pain. Some 89% of those suffering with back, shoulder or neck pain as a result of their new workspace had not told their employer about it.

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