Why menopause and musculoskeletal pain are interconnected workplace wellbeing priorities

Why menopause and musculoskeletal pain are interconnected workplace wellbeing priorities

Everyone’s starting to talk about menopause. And for good reason – it’s a traditionally underserved area of health that affects half the population, costs businesses billions and has a huge impact on workplace wellbeing. But musculoskeletal (MSK) pain is often left out of the conversation, despite being intrinsically linked to menopause and impacting the workforce in many of the same ways. 

The joint impact of menopause and MSK pain in the workplace

71% of people going through menopause also experience MSK issues, including stiff joints, sore muscles and conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. This is largely due to hormonal changes and a decline in oestrogen during menopause, which can weaken your musculoskeletal system and exacerbate any existing pain. 

So, menopause and MSK pain go hand in hand. Together, these two conditions are impacting your business in a number of ways:

1. Staff retention

1 in 10 women leave their jobs because of their menopause symptoms. Employees with persistent joint and muscle pain, a key menopause symptom, are 64% more likely to quit than those without pain.

It costs £30,000 on average to replace an employee and £1,530 for new employee training. Therefore, the physical pain associated with menopause often carries a big financial burden for your business.

2. Workplace absence

Millions of people take sick days and time off work due to menopause and MSK pain. 44 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to MSK pain and menopause symptoms – muscle and joint issues are responsible for nearly 75% of these absences! 

A study by Recruiting Times revealed that the cost of sick pay each year for a company with just 50 people is more than the average employee salary. For many women at menopausal age, the impact of potential career interruptions and indirect economic losses are almost impossible to quantify.

3. Productivity

The intertwined nature of menopause and MSK pain can have a substantial impact on workplace productivity. Our extensive research into MSK trends in the workplace highlights that the dip in productivity caused by MSK pain costs the global economy $1.69 trillion each year.

Women battling with the combined symptoms of menopause and MSK pain are much more likely to experience presenteeism – showing up to work, but functioning with reduced productivity due to illness or pain. Not to mention the brain fog, mood swings and sleep disturbances associated with these conditions, which all tend to stack up and have a damaging effect on workplace productivity.

4. Emotional wellbeing

Pain and mental health are intrinsically linked. Persistent pain can amplify the challenges faced during menopause, leading to increased stress, anxiety, irritability and reduced quality of life. 

It’s all too common for these negative emotions to trickle down into the workplace and affect the overall wellbeing of your team. Sadly, only 12% of women seek workplace adjustments to relieve their menopause symptoms and many suffer in silence, leaving companies unaware of the joint impact of menopause and MSK pain. 

Addressing the combined impact of menopause and MSK pain in the workplace

Research from REBA revealed that 85% of companies already provide or plan to provide support for menopause in the next two years. However, MSK pain is still an overlooked symptom of menopause and many companies fail to address it in their workplace wellbeing strategies. 

It’s vital for companies to recognise that physical pain often goes hand in hand with menopause. Tools such as VIDA Pain Coach, Vitrue Health’s personalised pain management and exercise programme, can help your team ease the painful symptoms of menopause. 

For more information on how VIDA can help you prioritise the holistic wellbeing of women in the workplace, contact us at sales@vitruehealth.com.  

Content Marketing Manager

Marisa has over 7 years of experience writing about a range of clinical topics including DSE, hybrid working and employee wellbeing. Check out more of Marisa's articles on the Vitrue Health blog!

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