That pain in your neck costs more than you think

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Living In Balance logoYou wake up one day and “awwww damn,” you can’t turn your head — your neck is killing you.

Heat and OTC pain relievers all day. Toss and turn all night and wake again, unable to move your head. This goes on for a couple days when you give in and go to doctor. You call and get a 2 p.m. appointment. You beg your boss to let you leave to go to doctor. You leave at 1:30 arrive 10 minutes early, sit in the waiting room for 20 minutes, then you are ushered into the exam room. You wait some more. After another 10 minutes the doc comes in. You explain the situation. He examines. Yup, you have a stiff neck.

Screenshot 2016-01-17 at 10.05.32 AM“Feels muscular.”

The doc suggests muscle relaxers and physical therapy, gives you a script and referral. The PT office is right in the same building. so you walk over and make an appointment. Off to pharmacy next. You have lost three hours of work and spent $20 on your co-pay and $7 on the script. Two days later your neck is a little better due to drugs (you think) and you are off to your PT appointment. You made this one early so you only miss an hour of work: $40 co-pay, a sheet with some exercise and another appointment. After another hour of missed work later that week and another $40, things feel better finally, so you cancel the next appointment.

You have spent $107 and missed 5 hours of work. Lucky for you, you have already met your deductible or the cost would have been so much more.

The average 15-minute sick visit is $106, average PT assessment visit $150 follow up visits $100 (insurance covers a  percentage of charges. You pay your copay, deductible and possibly co insurance). If you had to pay full out of pocket and you got a cash discount you might have to pay $200-$300 for this scenario.

Screenshot 2016-01-17 at 10.05.39 AMMy personal experience with insurance, doctors and physical therapy tells me nothing is free.

Between our premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and co-pays it is very pricey to be sick or injured. The average family plan premium (2011 numbers) is about $15,000 per year. The employee pays $3-$4,000 of the $15,000. The average deductible is $1,000 per person. The average coinsurance is 20 percent of paid services. The average co-pay for a PCP is $15-$25 and a specialist, $30-$50. CHA-CHING!

My 1 hour massage is $70. That is hands-on work. Not sitting in the waiting room or having some PT watch you exercise. HSA and FSA plans can sometimes be used for massage (always check with plan provider) making it pre-tax dollars that are used. The ACA has some vague language in it where massage may be covered at some time in the future. In the meantime using your HSA and FSA plans is a great way to pay for massage.

Massage is an affordable way to stay healthy when you compare cost. It is also very affordable in acute pain scenarios. I can give many examples of clients coming in with a neck, shoulder, low back issue. After a few weeks of consistent massage and doing their homework they see and feel a difference.

If you were to wake up with a stiff neck and make an appointment with me that day or the next, within a couple sessions you will feel much better. Your out of pocket cost would be about the same. You also have the added benefit of some stress relief and NOT having to take medication (which can cause even more problems) thrown in.

Now just a little C.Y.A. on my part: Don’t call me if you have been in an accident and think I will fix ya right up; please go see your doctor for that. Massage is great for those muscular “issues in the tissues” but if you hear a loud pop from your knee as you bent down and can’t put any weight on it, that is a doctor moment for sure.

lisa pooleLisa Poole has been a licensed New Hampshire Massage Therapist since 2011. She is the owner of Peaceful Strength Massage Therapy located in Manchester, NH. She has an Associate of Science degree in Exercise Science with 10 years experience as a personal trainer. She worked for a major insurance carrier for more than eight years and has a great appreciation for the stresses of working behind a computer for 8 hours a day.

Lisa is a lifelong resident of New Hampshire. A parent of two boys (young men), and is married to her high school sweetheart. Exercise and wellness are tremendously important to her. Personal experience has taught her the importance ofScreen Shot 2015-11-08 at 8.42.13 AMbalance between family, job and fitness. Lisa’s goals are to share her knowledge, help make people feel better and lead healthier lives.


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