Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) have many names |Buttpillow.com

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are also known as Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs) and Repetitive Motion Disorders (RMDs) and overuse syndromes as well as repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). Learn more now about some of the most common MSDs seen in office workers which can be called by any of the names mentioned in this article.

MSDs are common in office workers

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as “injuries and disorders of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and cartilage) and nervous system.  They can affect nearly all tissues, including the nerves and tendon sheaths, and most frequently involve the arms and back.”  

Up to 85 percent of the population will suffer from musculoskeletal pain.  

Pretty woman in glasses
Anka waring glasses and a shirt with the Buttillow™ logo

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are known by many names, such as cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs).

MSDs are also called repetitive motion disorders (RMDs),  overuse syndromes,  repetitive strain injuries, and “office syndrome.”

Whatever the name, you’ll feel the pain.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Graph of symptoms and causes of musculoskeletal disorders
Office syndrome infographic. Symptoms and causes of musculoskeletal disorders.

Poor ergonomic posture can cause MSDs  

When workers sit or stand in a posture that is not ergonomically correct, they can experience musculoskeletal pain.

Because musculoskeletal pain and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a major source of suffering, health care, and utilization of compensation, there is a definite need for prevention (2).

OSHA – MSDs have a variety of names

Ergonomics:  The Study of Work, OSHA 3125, page 2, states “Occupational safety and health professionals have called these disorders a variety of names, including cumulative trauma disorders, repeated trauma, repetitive stress injuries, and occupational overexertion syndrome.”

To view OSHA’s discussion of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs): “Ergonomics:  The Study of Work – OSHA 3125,” click here: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3125.pdf

Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs) defined by PEOSH:

“Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) are injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces) or sustained or awkward positions.  Cumulative trauma disorders are also called repetitive motion disorders (RMDs), overuse syndromes, regional musculoskeletal disorders, repetitive motion injuries, or repetitive strain injuries.”

Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Program, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, “PEOSH Cumulative Trauma Disorders in Office Workers” December 1, 1997

Musculoskeletal Disorders in office workers:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – a compression of the median nerve in the wrist that may be caused by swelling and irritation of tendons and tendon sheaths.

Tendinitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a tendon. It develops when the tendon is repeatedly tensed from overuse or unaccustomed use of the hand, wrist, arm, or shoulder.

Tenosynovitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a tendon sheath associated with extreme flexion and extension of the wrist.

Low Back Disorders – These include pulled or strained muscles, ligaments, tendons, or ruptured disks. They may be caused by cumulative effects of faulty body mechanics, poor posture, and/or improper lifting techniques.

Synovitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a synovial lining (joint lining).

DeQuervain’s Disease – A type of synovitis that involves the base of the thumb.

Bursitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of the connective tissue surrounding a joint, usually of the shoulder.

Epicondylitis – Elbow pain associated with extreme rotation of the forearm and bending of the wrist. The condition is also called tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – a compression of nerves and blood vessels between the first rib, clavicle (collar bone), and accompanying muscles as they leave the thorax (chest) and enter the shoulder.”

Cervical Radiculopathy – A compression of the nerve roots in the neck.

Ulnar Nerve Entrapment – A compression of the ulnar nerve in the wrist.

Gamer girl in bikini top with headphone and playing computer games
Musculoskeletal disorders can happen to gamers and office workers.

Symptoms of MSDs or CTDs

The following symptoms may involve the back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, or fingers.  If symptoms last for at least one week or if they occur on many occasions a doctor should be consulted. 

  • Numbness,
  • Decreased joint motion,
  • Swelling,
  • Burning,
  • Pain,
  • Aching,
  • Redness,
  • Weakness,
  • Tingling,
  • Clumsiness,
  • Cracking or popping of joints

MSDs can be caused by work and non-work activities

These disorders can result from work and other than work activities that involve repetitive motions or sustained awkward postures, such as sports or hobbies. 

14 different types of gamers in a variety of postures
Posture is important to relieve and prevent musculoskeletal pain and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) while gaming.

“These painful and sometimes crippling disorders develop gradually over periods of weeks, months, or years. . .Work and non-work activities may together contribute to cumulative trauma disorders.  These disorders can also be aggravated by medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, multiple myeloma, thyroid disorders, amyloid disease and pregnancy.” 

“PEOSH Cumulative Trauma Disorders in Office Workers” December 1, 1997

REFERENCES:

  1. Public Employees Occupational Safety & Health, State of NJ, 1997.
  2. Textbook of Pain, 1998, “Prevention of Disability due to Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain,” written by Steven James Litton
  3. U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA 3125 2000 (Revised), “Ergonomics:  The Study of Work”

A 5,000 year History of Seating | Buttpillow.com

“A History of Seating in the Western World,” is a research paper written by Kim Gurr, who was seeking her Postgraduate Diploma in Ergonomics Research under the supervision of Leon Straker, Physiotherapy and Phillip Moore, Social Sciences; however, Ms. Gurr died before completing her ergonomics research. This research paper covers the 5,000 year period beginning with the Egyptian Era through today’s modern ergonomists.

A History of Seating in the Western World

“A History of Seating in the Western World,” is a research paper based on the Postgraduate Diploma in Ergonomics Research project performed by Kim Gurr under the supervision of Leon Straker, Physiotherapy, and Phillip Moore, Social Sciences, at the Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia.

Unfortunately, Kim died before finalizing her research.

History of Seating is Important for Ergonomics

Seating is an important issue for contemporary ergonomics. Its frequent use by humans and its association with musculoskeletal disorders are just some of the reasons for its importance.

To understand the place of seating in modern Western societies, it is useful to understand its history.

This paper presents an overview of the ancient history of seating and the modern history of Western seating with particular emphasis on the design influences over the past 5,000 year period.

History of Seating begins with the Egyptians

The history of supporting sitting or seating has a long and colorful history beginning, at least, with the Egyptians some 3,000 B.C.

The historical knowledge summarized here is distilled from a great variety of texts, for it seems our fascination with the chair is as alive today as it was in ancient times.

It should be noted that despite the huge amount of information documented on seat types, only three types of distinctly different seats developed.

These were:

  • the stool (both fixed and folding);
  • the bench, and
  • the chair
Continue reading “A 5,000 year History of Seating | Buttpillow.com”

The Ergonomics of Neck Pain | Buttpillow.com

Neck and shoulder pain are common among younger and younger men and women. Neck and shoulder pain can be caused by musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities. Preventative measures should be taken to minimize risk factors for neck and shoulder pain before you are in pain. The risk factors for and causes as well as preventative measures for the development of neck and shoulder pain outlined in the research are listed here.

Neck pain is a very common condition that affects nearly 50 percent of people over the age of 50 years at some point in their lives.  With the increased use of computers and other stationary-designed workplaces, more and more younger persons are faced with this problem.

There are many structures in the neck that can cause pain. There are also multiple sites, when problematic, that can cause referred pain to the neck.

It is important to note the following:  Whether pain is felt outside the neck; whether pain is felt in the shoulders, whether pain is felt down the arms, or whether pain is felt in the hands.

Incorrect and correct positions for talking ergonomically via phone
Incorrect and correct positions for talking via smart phone. Neck and shoulder pain.

Signs to Seek Medical Attention for Neck Pain

Signs to seek medical attention as soon as possible include the following:

  • Numbness,
  • Weakness,
  • Tingling of the upper extremities,
  • Severe headaches,
  • Visual changes,
  • New neck pain lasting more than three weeks,
  • Persistent neck pain.  

The Anatomy of the Neck 

The anatomy of the neck is made up of the cervical spine which, in turn, is composed of seven vertebrae (bones) which are joined by intervertebral discs. These discs are made up of a gel-like material that absorbs increased pressure. During the fourth decade of life (40’s), progressive degeneration of these discs occurs. The end result is a decreased ability of the discs to absorb shock and pressure.

Two Common Causes of Neck Pain 

Two common causes of new or persistent neck pain are bulging discs and bone spurs.

Bulging Discs

As the disc loses some of its shock absorbing ability, it grows; and at times will bulge on the structures surrounding it.

Bone Spurs

It is also common for the vertebrae themselves, which are made of bone, to grow additions called bony spurs. The spurs may grow in such a way as to compress nerves in the neck.

Bulging Discs and Bone Spurs May Cause Neck Pain to be Referred

Both May Cause Neck Pain to Be Referred

People with either condition may experience pain that can be referred to any level of the back of the neck. 

Muscle Spasms may Cause Neck Pain

Also, spasms of any of the many muscles of the neck are common causes of neck pain.

Try to Date When Your Neck Pain Began

It is helpful to date when the neck pain began. Once a specific activity can be linked to neck pain, treatment is easier.  Most people with neck pain have no objective findings on physical exam.    The history of the neck pain is an important tool for you and your health care provider to use to diagnose the cause of each pain.

Bending your head forward can cause Neck Pain / Spasm

Prolonged sitting with the neck flexed (bent forward) in one position, such as work on computers, is a common occupational cause of neck pain. A sustained position (without moving regularly) can cause spasm of the neck muscles and resulting pain.

Prolonged sitting with the neck bent forward (for example, on social medial, looking down at your phone) increases your risk for twisting injuries which may not hurt for 24 – 48 hours after the incident.

Bending your head back can cause Neck Pain

Prolonged neck extension (bent backward, looking up) is another common occupational situation that can give rise to neck pain in people doing overhead work.

The physical exam of the neck demonstrates that most people can easily place their chin on their chest, touch both shoulders with the chin and bend sideways to touch ear to shoulder on both sides.

Sitting woman doing neck exercises to minimize risk of "computer syndrome"
woman doing exercises to minimize risk of neck and shoulder pain, office worker syndrome, computer syndrome

Normally, the neck can be extended so a person is looking up at the sky.  Sometimes, slight neck extension causes pain and this could be caused by disc degeneration, which is common.

Studies show that degenerative changes in the spine of the neck (cervical spine) in people without complaints are evident in over 90 percent of people over 50 years old.

Treatment for Neck Pain 

Treatment of the neck differs if the neck needs to be immobilized with a collar. If this is you, you most likely will know who you are.

If your neck hurts, the first treatment is:

  • aspirin (as long as you are not pregnant) or Tylenol-related products;
  • and — believe it or not — performing as much of your daily activities as possible.

Muscle Relaxants May Be Prescribed

If neck pain lasts for more than three to four days, a course of muscle relaxants prescribed by your physician may be helpful.

People may seek manipulation therapy for neck pain. Be aware that the value of this type of treatment is uncertain.

Workplace Design is Critical to Minimize Neck Pain

One of the most important treatments is one of the least recognized. It is observation of your surroundings to determine what may be causing the pain.  Workplace design and body motion are critical elements that can worsen pre-existing conditions or create / prevent new ones.

Workplace Design can minimize Ergonomic Risk Factors 

The study titled, “Physicial Risk Factors for Neck Pain”  concluded that there is a positive relationship between neck pain and the duration of sitting and twisting or bending of the trunk.

“It was concluded that there is some evidence for a positive relationship between neck pain and the following work-related risk factors:

  • Neck flexiom,
  • arm force,
  • arm posture,
  • duration of sitting,
  • twisting or bending of the trunk,
  • hand-arm vibration,
  • workplace design.”

If you feel you may need to see a doctor, check out these links:

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/neck-pain/

WebMD:  https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/neck-shoulder

Spine-Health:  https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/chronic-neck-pain-what-condition-causing-my-neck-pain

The Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/neck-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20375581 

References with Quotes:

1.  Physical Risk Factors for Neck Pain

“Ergonomic risk factors for different types neck and shoulder disorders, such as:  —  

– Cervical spondylosis;

– cervical syndrome a/k/a cervical disc disease;

– thoracic outlet syndrome;

– shoulder joint osteoarhorosis;

– rotator cuff tendinitis;

– tension neck syndrome  a/k/a “tendomyotic pressure pains in shoulders and neck”    —    can be minimized.

Scandinavian Journal of Work and Environmental Health, 2000; 26(1):7-19, “Physical Risk Factors for Neck Pain,” by Geertje A.M. Ariens, Msc; Willem van Mechelen, PhD.; Paulien M. Bongers, PhD; Lex M. Bouter, PhD; and Gerrit van der wal, PhD.

2.  Risk Factors for Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Newspaper Employees

“A total of 973 workers completed the survey.  The one-year period prevalence rate for any musculoskeletal disorder of the upper extremities was 41 percent.  Neck symptoms (26 percent) were the most frequently reported, followed by hand or wrist (22 percent), shoulder (17 percent), and elbow (10 percent) symptoms.”  

Scandinavian Journal of Work and Environmental Health, 1994; 20:417-26, “Job Task and Psychosocial Risk Factors for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Newspaper Employees,” written by Bruce Bernard, M.D.; Steven Sauter, PhD; Lawrence Fine, M.D.; Martin Petersen, PhD, and Thomas Hales, M.D.

3. Ergonomics Method for Prevention of the Musculoskeletal Discomforts Among Female Industrial Workers:

“Five main factors were associated with musculoskeletal discomforts: 

1) Lack of worker selection and lack of appropriate training to prevent occupational hazards or work-related diseases;

2) Poor ergonomic design of the workplace and tasks, including organization;

3) Poor working posture;

4) Lack of task variation;

5) Insufficient rest breaks.”  

Journal of Human Ergo., 1993: 22:95-113, “Ergonomics Method for Prevention of the Musculoskeletal Discomforts Among Female Industrial Workers: Physical Characteristics and Work Facts,” written by P. Chavalitsakulchas and H. Shahnavaz, Center for Ergonomics of Developing Countries, Luled University, Sweeden.

4. Workplace Ergonomic Factors and the Development of Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Neck and Upper Limbs

“The rise in frequency of these (musculoskeletal) disorders is believed to be associated with the advance of automation and specialization in work (National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, 1988).  Much faster work rates and the redesign of jobs often require that a production worker or data entry clerk do a single task or a very limited number of tasks repeatedly, commonly tens of thousands of times per day.  Although new technologies have generally reduced the workload and fewer jobs entail heavy lifting, the repetitiveness of today’s ‘light work’ concentrates the work load on fewer, smaller muscle groups.”  

American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 1991; 19:87-107, “Workplace Ergonomic Factors and the Development of Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Neck and Upper Limbs: A Meta-analysis,” written by Susan Stock, M.D.:

5.  Prevalence Rates and Odds Ratios of Shoulder-Neck Diseases in Different Occupational Groups 

Cervical Spondylosis

“Cervical Spondylosis – degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) of the cervical vertebra and related tissues.  If severe, it may cause pressure on nerve roots with subsequent pain or paraesthesia (numbness and tingling) in the arms.  

Cervical Syndrome (cervical disc disease)

“Cervical Syndrome (cervical disc disease) . . .for data entry operators the diagnostic criteria was; a) neck pain radiating to one or both arms; and b) numbness in the hands in addition to:  c) limitation of neck movement and radiating pain provoked by test movements.  Pain in the neck radiating to the arm with a segmental distribution was our concept of Cervical Syndrome. 

British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1987; 44:602-610, “Prevalence Rates and Odds Ratios of Shoulder-Neck Diseases in Different Occupational Groups,” by M. Hagberg, National Board of Occupational Safety and Health, Medical Division, Sweden; and D. H. Wegman, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

“Thoracic outlet syndrome – a symptom complex caused by conditions in which nerves or vessels are compressed in the neck or under the axilla (underarm).  Anatomically, the cause is compression by structures, such as the first rib pressing against the clavicle (collar bone).”   

Tabers Medical Dictionary 

Shoulder Joint Osteoarthrosis

“Shoulder Joint Osteoarthrosis – our concept of shoulder joint osteoarthosis is that of a reduction in the articular cartilage height (cushions between the bones) and sclerosis (degeneration) in the structures of the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint).  

British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1987; 44:602-610, “Prevalence Rates and Odds Ratios of Shoulder-Neck Diseases in Different Occupational Groups,” by M. Hagberg, National Board of Occupational Safety and Health, Medical Division, Sweden; and D. H. Wegman, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

“Rotator Cuff Tendinitis Shipyard welders, plate workers, and male office workers  had the following the criteria for this condition:  localized shoulder pain and tenderness of the humeral head (top of the arm bone).  

Tension Neck Syndrome

“Tension Neck Syndrome- A constant feeling of one or more subjective symptom.  

“For example neck pain or headache in addition to signs of at least two tender spots or palpable hardening (feeling hard bumps in your neck muscles), or both, plus muscle tightness in neck movements — were the diagnostic criteria of Tension Neck Syndrome for the Finnish studies of slaughterhouse workers, data entry operators, assembly line packers, shop assistants, and female office workers.

British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1987; 44:602-610, “Prevalence Rates and Odds Ratios of Shoulder-Neck Diseases in Different Occupational Groups,” by M. Hagberg, National Board of Occupational Safety and Health, Medical Division, Sweden; and D. H. Wegman, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A

Tension Neck Syndrome a/k/a tendomyotic pressure pains

“For the Swiss, data entry operators, ‘conversational terminal operators,’ typists, and office workers, the medical finding listed as ‘tendomyotic pressure pains in shoulders and neck’ was regarded as Tension Neck Syndrome.”  

Tension Neck Syndrome is most common shoulder-neck disease

“It should be noted that Tension Neck Syndrome had the highest rates of all shoulder-neck diseases studied and women tended to have higher rates of Tension Neck Syndrome than men.”

British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1987; 44:602-610, “Prevalence Rates and Odds Ratios of Shoulder-Neck Diseases in Different Occupational Groups,” by M. Hagberg, National Board of Occupational Safety and Health, Medical Division, Sweden; and D. H. Wegman, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A