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Are you experiencing work related pain?




Introduction:

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders have emerged as significant occupational health concerns affecting individuals across various industries. These disorders can result in chronic pain, disability, and reduced productivity among affected workers. Understanding the causes and examples of such issues is crucial for employers and employees to implement preventive measures and ensure a healthy and safe workplace. In this blog, we will explore some common causes of Work-related musculoskeletal disorders and provide examples backed by the current, up to date thinking.


Causes of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders:

1. Repetitive Motion:

Repetitive tasks involving continuous movements without sufficient rest can strain muscles, tendons, and joints. This can lead to disorders such as tendinopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and bursitis. For instance, workers engaged in assembly line work, typing, or using vibrating tools are susceptible to such disorders [1].


2. Awkward Postures:

Maintaining unnatural or strained postures while performing tasks can lead to Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders. For instance, employees who spend prolonged periods working in awkward postures, such as bending, twisting, or reaching, are at risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders. Examples include lower back pain, neck and shoulder pain, and sprains [2]


3. Forceful Exertions:

Tasks involving excessive force or lifting heavy objects can put significant strain on muscles and joints, leading to musculoskeletal disorders. Workers involved in construction, warehousing, or healthcare may frequently encounter these issues. Common disorders resulting from forceful exertions include herniated discs, rotator cuff injuries, and strains [3].


4. Mechanical Pressure:

Prolonged or repeated mechanical pressure on body parts can cause Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders. For instance, sitting or standing for extended periods without proper ergonomic support can lead to back pain, stiffness, and circulatory disorders. Workers who operate heavy machinery or use vibrating tools may also experience musculoskeletal difficulties due to continuous mechanical pressure [4].


Examples of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders:

1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Common among individuals using a computer keyboard or performing repetitive hand motions, carpal tunnel syndrome results from nerve compression in the wrist. It causes pain, numbness, and weakness in the hand and fingers [5].


2. Lower Back Pain:

One of the most prevalent Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders, lower back pain can occur due to heavy lifting, prolonged sitting without proper support, or repetitive bending and twisting. Studies have shown how exercise programs within the office environments can reduce patients pain by improving their strength, range of motion and quality of life [6].



3. Rotator Cuff Injury:

Often affecting individuals involved in physically demanding jobs, such as material handling or overhead activities, rotator cuff injuries lead to shoulder pain and limited range of motion. Exercises and providing the appropriate information/education have been shown play a large role in helping return to work with such injuries[7].


Conclusion:

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders pose significant health risks and can impact individuals' quality of life and productivity. Recognizing the causes, such as repetitive motion, awkward postures, forceful exertions, and mechanical pressure, is crucial for preventing WRMSDs. Employers should prioritize ergonomic interventions, training programs, and adequate rest periods to ensure a safe working environment for employees. By implementing preventive measures, we can contribute to minimizing the prevalence of these disorders and promoting the overall well-being of the workforce.


References:

1. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/msd/default.html


2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (2014). Musculoskeletal Health Program: Workplace Factors. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/musculoskeletal/default.html


3. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. (2021). Work-related musculoskeletal disorders: Prevalence, costs and demographics in the EU. Retrieved from https://osha.europa.eu/en/themes/work-related-musculoskeletal-disorders


4. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2018). Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/ergonomics


5. Mayo Clinic. (2018). Carpal tunnel syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355603


6. Gobbo, S. (2019) Physical Exercise Is Confirmed to Reduce Low Back Pain Symptoms in Office Workers: A Systematic Review of the Evidence to Improve Best Practices in the Workplace. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 4(3), 43


7. Lafrance, S. Diagnosing, (2022) Managing, and Supporting Return to Work of Adults With Rotator Cuff Disorders: A Clinical Practice Guideline. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 52(10), 642-701.



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