You’re in the middle of encoding a document when suddenly you feel a certain numbness and pricking sensation in your wrist. You take a rest for a while but the pain radiated to your fingers and the entire arm. This condition can be one of the common issues experienced by workers and affecting their work performance. Aside from the prevalent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, other musculoskeletal disorders can hinder the opportunity of becoming productive and efficient at work. That is why it is imperative to know how to eliminate the risk factors that lead to these work-related conditions.
What Are Musculoskeletal Disorders?
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are described as injuries that can affect the movement of the body’s musculoskeletal system, including the blood vessels, nerves, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and discs.
Other terms are given for MSDs, such as repetitive stress injury, overuse injury, and repetitive motion injury. From all these terms, there is a highlight of the terms ‘repetition’ and ‘stress.’
According to Healthline.com, MSDs are common, especially among office workers, and the risk increases as we age.
“The severity of MSDs can vary. In some cases, they cause pain and discomfort that interferes with everyday activities. Early diagnosis and treatment may help ease symptoms and improve long-term outlook,”, Healthline.com stated.
The common symptoms of MSDs include stiff joints, recurrent pain, dull aches, and swelling. In most cases, these symptoms of MSDs can interfere with daily routines and activities such as typing, sitting, and walking. You may develop a limited range of motion or have trouble completing routine tasks.
The most known musculoskeletal disorders are the following:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndromewell-known medical website,
- Muscle and Tendon Strain
- Tension in the Neck (tension neck syndrome)
- Digital neuritis
- Radial Tunnel Syndrome
- Herniated or Ruptured Disc
- Ligament sprain
- Rotator cuff tendonitis
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Thoracic outlet compression
- DeQuervain’s Syndrome
- Trigger thumb or finger
- Mechanical back syndrome
The most common symptoms of MSDs are muscle weakness, swelling, redness, pain, and muscle atrophy.
Healthine.com also stated that the treatment for these disorders would be based on how severe the symptoms are. In one of its published articles, it was stated:
“To address occasional pain, they may suggest moderate exercise and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. For more severe symptoms, they may prescribe medications to reduce inflammation and pain. In some cases, they may recommend physical therapy, occupational therapy, or both. These therapies can help you learn how to manage your pain and discomfort, maintain your strength and range of motion, and adjust your everyday activities and environments.”
The body’s joints, bones, and muscles deteriorate naturally as we get older. However, musculoskeletal disorders can still be prevented. There are various ways on how to decrease the risk of having these types of ailments.
Common Risk Factors of Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders?
Musculoskeletal disorders develop when the body’s system starts to fatigue due to repetitive activities. There are mainly two general categories of risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders: individual-related factors and work-related (ergonomic) factors.
Individual risk factors include poor health habits, lack of sufficient work practices, poor nutrition, and the lack of adequate rest and recovery.
A person who wants to get rid of musculoskeletal disorders must also ensure having a good state of well-being. Practice good health habits and avoid the ones that will jeopardize their health at work or home.
On the other hand, work-related risks are also common, especially to businesses where the nature of the job requires workers to do an activity repetitively.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety(CCOHS) stated the following:
“Certain workplace conditions, for example, the layout of the workstation, the speed of work (especially in conveyor-driven jobs), and the weight of the objects being handled influence these factors. In other situations, the psychosocial factors at the workplace may contribute to WMSDs. It is recommended that both physical and psychosocial factors be addressed.”
The risk factors that are often associated with MSDs are listed below:
- Force of movements
- Repetitive pace of work
- Movements and postures at work
- Increased pressure on the body
- Certain monotonous tasks
- Lack of control or influence over a specific job designation
- Poor or lack of communication among workers
- Lack of support from a manager or superiors
Body positions and movements such as bending forward, reaching for an object, typing, or rotating the arms can contribute to the risks of getting MSDs.
“Anybody’s position can cause discomfort and fatigue if it is maintained for long periods. For example, standing is a natural body posture, and by itself poses no particular health hazards. However, working for long periods in a standing position can cause sore feet, general muscular fatigue, and low back pain. In addition, the improper layout of work areas, and certain tasks can make workers use unnatural standing positions”, CCOHS also added.
The risks in the workplace are also increased by how often a task is done daily. According to CCOHS:
“Repetitive movements are especially hazardous when they involve the same joints and muscle groups over and over, and when we do the same motion too often, too quickly and for too long. Tasks requiring repetitive movements always involve other risk factors for WMSD such as fixed body position and force; the worker, in order to perform the task, has to maintain the shoulder and neck in a fixed position to exert some force.”
Work-related risk factors can be lowered by making sure that the workstation is ergonomically set up. Using the proper tools and equipment, as well as practicing good work habits, will be very beneficial.
Effective Tips to Decrease the Risk of Getting Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders
Nobody wants to perform tasks in the workplace with a painful wrist or tired muscles. We all aim for better productivity and efficiency levels. To achieve that, we should alleviate or lower the risk factors. The following tips can definitely help:
#1 Implement strong workplace ergonomics. Ergonomics will ensure that everything in the workplace- from tools, equipment, and accessories- will be organized and set up properly. Workers can work comfortably since repetitive tasks, and awkward postures will be alleviated.
#2 Use standing desks and other ergonomic accessories. Standing desks can aid in promoting better posture and avoiding the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting. They can be easily adjusted to the proper height, so alternating between sitting and standing will be a lot easier.
An ergonomic mouse can also be used to prevent the risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other strain-induced injuries due to long hours of using computers.
An ergonomic chair will help provide support and comfort while seated. A chair with good lumbar support will lower the risk of back pain and fatigue.
#3 Always have a healthy diet and proper exercise.
#4 Promote proper posture at all times.
#5 Do some modifications to your repetitive tasks. For instance, if you’re sitting for long hours each day, start taking some breaks every one to two hours.
#6 Employers should conduct training and education programs about ergonomic processes in the workplace.
#7 Practice proper body mechanics, especially when sitting, bending, or reaching for something.
#8 Develop routines that will help lower the extensive repetitive or monotonous tasks.
#9 Apply proper time management and good organizing skills.
#10 Consult your doctor when any symptoms of MSDs seem to worsen.
Learning about musculoskeletal disorders is the responsibility of employers and employees. This is crucial because lowering the risk of developing work-related MSDs is cost-effective and will also enhance everyone’s health in the workplace. Everyone can work efficiently, and the productivity level at work will surely improve.