Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are common conditions that can affect your muscles, Nerves, ligament, tendons, bones and joints. Common symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders include pain, weakness, stiffness and “popping” of the joint. Inflammation can cause pain, swelling, warmth, tenderness, limit movement, and sometimes skin redness. When inflammation affects a joint, fluid may accumulate inside the joint, causing pain, swelling and stiffness.
Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs)
WMSDs are disorders that develop gradually over time and are caused by the repetitive overuse of the body structure. Traumatic injuries from accidents are not considered as WMSDs.
Repetitive work activities or prolong activities in awkward postures can lead to WMSD, provoking symptoms such as pain to be present during work or at rest.
Most WMSD from desk bound jobs affects the hands, wrists, elbows, neck, and shoulders. Whereas jobs which requires frequent lifting can lead to aches/pain in the legs, hips, ankles, and feet. Back pain is especially common in repetitive lifting activities.
What are the risk factors for WMSDs?
WMSDs arising from arm and hand movements such as bending, straightening, gripping, holding, twisting, clenching and reaching is common. These simple movements are not particularly harmful in the ordinary activities of daily life. However, what makes them hazardous is the continuous repetition movement in work situations (often in a forceful manner) and most of all, the speed of the movement and the lack of time for recovery.
- Fixed or constrained body positions.
- Continual repetition of movements.
- Force concentrated on small parts of the body, such as the hand or wrist.
- A pace of work that does not allow sufficient recovery between movements.
Generally, none of these factors acts separately to cause WMSD. WMSDs commonly occur as a result of a combination and interaction among them.
Pain is the most common symptom associated with WMSDs. In some cases there may be joint stiffness, muscle tightness, redness and swelling of the affected area. Some workers may also experience sensations of “pins and needles,” numbness, skin colour changes, and decreased sweating of the hands.
WMSDs may progress in stages from mild to severe.
Early stage: Aching and tiredness of the affected limb occur during the work shift but disappear at night and during days off work. No reduction of work performance.
Intermediate stage: Aching and tiredness occur early in the work shift and persist at night. Reduced capacity for repetitive work.
Late stage: Aching, fatigue, and weakness persist at rest. Inability to sleep and to perform light duties.
Not everyone goes through these stages in the same way. In fact, it may be difficult to say exactly when one stage ends and the next begins. The first pain is a signal that the muscles and tendons should rest and recover. Otherwise, an injury can become longstanding, and sometimes, irreversible. The earlier people recognize symptoms, the quicker they should respond to them.